Tag Archives: fantasy

Camp NaNoWriMo Day 4: Feeling Like a Boss

As my first update for Camp NaNoWriMo, I must say that I am really proud of what I have accomplished so far in my writing journey.

As I stated last time, my story is bigger than I thought it originally was going to be. As I continue writing I’m discovering more and more about what I want the story to be and how I want it to unfold.

Hell, I even figured out that I want it to be a trilogy.

That said, my writing the past four days has been an epic one.

As of this moment I am currently at 16,803 words of 50,000. That’s 34% of the way to my goal. And I’m not even close to being done yet.

It feels amazing to write almost 5k words per day and to just see the story unfolding in front of my eyes. I’m learning more about my two main characters, as well as the world surrounding them, and I love it.

Though right now I’m still working out kinks and how I want certain things to flow, I do have a vague idea of major plot points, as well as some scenes I really want to work up to.

Especially the romance parts. *teehee* (I’m such a goob.)

But as of today I’m feeling like a boss. Which means, pretty much, I feel great and like I can conquer the world (muahaha!).

Now this doesn’t mean I’ll keep up my writing streak for long. I am trying to reach the next milestone every day (5k per day), so my next milestone I want to reach today is 20k words.

I’m determined, though, and I am truly loving this novel so much.

Now for today’s advice because I need it as much as any writer out there:

  • Don’t let what future reviews might say affect how you write. Do you worry about what future readers might think about your writing? I’m the sort of person that hates disappointing people, and if they’re disappointed in my work then I feel I’ve let them down. I’m already thinking of future reviews when I should be focusing on the now, on my writing, on my first draft. Don’t think about what may be; think about what you have right in front of you.
  • Reach a milestone per day and reward yourself somehow. Rewarding yourself is something that everyone loves doing. If it weren’t for rewards I’m sure a lot of us wouldn’t be doing what we love to do. I haven’t rewarded myself yet, but that’s also because I’m trying to think of something that’ll work for me. So whether that be an hour or two of Netflix after reaching your word count goal for the day, or going for a walk with a friend, or chocolate, give yourself a reward.
  • Give yourself a challenge to reach toward. I find that I’m a competitive person at times when I’m otherwise a very relaxed person (in most cases). Giving myself a challenge to strive to achieve is one such way that helps drive me to my goal. That’s why I’ve been thinking of raising my word count goal from 50k to 100k: it’s a challenge that I can strive for, and the way I’m thinking of my novel, that’s what it’ll turn into.
  • Keep cheering for yourself. There’s not shame in keeping positive in your own writing and giving yourself a pat on the back each time you reach a milestone. Others will be proud of you, too, but also try not to overdo it. Moderation is key.
  • Keep writing! Don’t get discouraged if you fall behind. It’s still early on in the month and so you just need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep writing!

Anyone participating in Camp NaNo this month? What’s the story you’re working on about? How far have you gotten? Let me know!

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For the Love of Reading

Reading is a gateway to a world unlike any other. It can be set in reality or Mars. It can be a great way to de-stress from a long, hard day, or a way to just have some fun. It’s entirely up to you on how you view it.

But why is reading so great?

Let me first start by saying why I love it: it helps me to get away. I am a very imaginative person, and so to be able to have a way to channel that imaginative and creative side of me into something other than drawing is relaxing and fun for me.

I especially enjoy young adult literature. There’s a sense of innocence in many of the books, but there’s also a deep sense of self and adventure in many of the novels I have read. It’s nice to be able to read books about teens and young adults that can be so relatable, and yet some reach the very stretches of the imagination.

Not only that, but I have read manga, romance, fiction, historical, fantasy/sci-fi, religious, and many subcategories within those categories. There’s a whole range of genres of books that are accessible to those that are willing to read – so go out and pick up a book!

When reading I often put myself into the hero or heroine’s shoes, and so when some actions happen I react appropriately to those situations, such as when a romantic scene is happening: I tend to get butterflies. Or when someone is pissing off the main character I start getting pissed off. It’s a way for me to drop whatever is bothering me that day and just let go of it all.

So what can you do to start loving to read more?

  • Pick up a book! It’s not going to kill you to go to the bookstore, the library, or even online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble and buy an e-book.
  • Listen to an audiobook. I had a classmate that fell in love with reading again because of audiobooks. Some of the people who read it don’t sound great, but try to enjoy the story regardless.
  • Start or join a book club. What better way to read than being forced to meet up with people to discuss a book at length? Search around for local book clubs or start your own!
  • Pick up books with stories that interest you. It sounds like a “well, duh” answer, but we are often forced to read books through school that we otherwise didn’t enjoy, or even hate, so try to go for a genre or type of story that you’re interested in, such as dystopian societies or dragons or romance.
  • Find someone to read with you. This is similar to the book club idea, but it’s not exactly the same thing. Find a friend or someone close to you who will be willing to read a book along with you so you have someone to discuss every intimate detail with. It can be a life saver when you’ve just read something you love and need to talk about until your throat runs dry. Also try online communities where you’ll get even more people who will enjoy it with you!

The possibilities are endless. Reading isn’t just for school or something that has to be a chore, as many younger people, and sometimes even older people, find it to be. It’s fun, exhilarating, and completely worth it.

Take the time to make a list of your likes and dislikes in a book, then go searching for some! Always start off at your local library if you’re uncertain that you might like a book enough to buy it. The books are free and the librarians are often very happy to help with any questions you may have.

So how about it? Do you love reading or think you’ll be able to?

 

What are some of your favorite types of books? Why do you love to read? Let me know in the comments!

The Magic of Fantasy

Magic and otherworldly beings have been a part of our folklore and tales for as long as anyone can remember – from the unicorn to wizards to witches to whole new worlds, fantasy is part of our culture.

Creating a whole new world can take a lot of time and research as it has to be believable enough to fit into who your characters are, and it also has to be fantastical enough to draw people in to read about it.

The same goes with fantasy characters. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is a great example of fantasy characters: though her characters are places in a parallel world to our own, the events in which they live through, plus who they are – witches and wizards – put them into the fantasy realm. They are real life characters in that they go through their own trials and triumphs, they have feelings like any other person, and they deal with any typical thing that teenagers do, too (angst, jealousy, anger, love), but they have the ability to use magic, to talk to snakes, and they see fantastical creatures such as griffons and elves.

When you’re creating a fantasy realm, what should you add? How can you form it to fit your needs, your story, your characters? How can you tell the best story possible without going into extreme details as to every little nook and cranny in this world?

  • Start simple. This goes for any story building, really. You don’t need to make it super intricate and elaborate – tell what you know! If you lived in a suburban area, then make the world like that: close-knit families, but different races/species and cultures.
  • If a mythical being already exists somewhere in the world, then do the research beforehand. Yes, it’s okay to change it up a little bit, like with how Stephenie Meyer made her vampires able to withstand sunlight, or how Sophie Jordan used dragons as her mythical creature of choice, but changed it so that they could transform into humans. Think outside the box, but do the research as well.
  • Draw out your world yourself! Yes, I said draw. Why not doodle what you have in mind on some scrap pieces of paper and try to envision what you world looks like from the ground to the trees to the sky. It may help you to envision where you want characters to go.
  • Know the ins and outs of your world before you start writing. This can help with names, culture, determining climate, plot points, and more. Have a general overview to begin with before fleshing it out as you go.

Of course there are many more tips and tricks to making a fantasy world realistic (or at least believable), but I wanted to give my own two cents on some of the aspects I believe are important to creating a fantasy world.

Many fantasy novels hold places in our hearts, and without them there wouldn’t be as much wonder or magic and excitement in thinking outside the box. So take the time to sit down and really think, “How can I make this world come to life?”

 

Have you written any fantasy stories? What tips and advice can you give to making those worlds come to life? Let me know in the comments!

Mini-Series Part 2: Setting Development

The sky allowed only a few rays to break through, casting a glow on the pavement ahead. The road stretched on for what seemed like forever, disappearing over the hills to unknown lands. The car’s radio was playing the typical things, pop music, country, and whatever else she felt like listening to. All she knew was that her hometown sucked and she needed a new place to go.

Welcome to part two of four of my mini-series for creating stories! Tonight I’m going to talk about setting and how you can include the characters you made from the advice I gave last time into your new setting.

Okay, so you have your character and you know him/her inside and out. Great! Now where do you place them?

There’s many different settings you can place a character, whether it be in the realm of fantasy or reality is up to you, though. If you plan on writing a story of fiction, placing them in the realm of reality – a familiar place – is something to think about because writing from experience is actually something that I have often read about as advice when writing a story.

If you decide to write in a realm of fantasy, be sure to keep in mind the climate, the culture, the flora and fauna that belong to that world, and more. Think about your favorite sci-fi movie or novel and how the directors and producers (and the rest) made the world come to life. You obviously don’t have to include every single little detail in your own story, but writing down everything in a separate log will help you to remember just what is included in the world you’re creating.

If you create from reality, be sure to also know the same types of things that you would have to know for a fantasy world – culture, food, flora and fauna, etc. For a beginner, you might want to consider writing in reality because it might be easier to write from what you know.

When creating a setting, there are a few things to consider:

  • Keep it within a small range. Unless you’re writing a story about pirates (which you should do research on, if you are), try to keep the location of your story down between one to three areas. You don’t want to over-complicate things by making your character go from Boston to Cairo, Egypt to Manhattan all within the same chapter – unless it’s relevant.
  • Write down everything. You’re going to want to write down everything you can think of about the setting you’re placing your character, from their home to their room to their car (if they have one) to the outside world. Do they have a magazine collection? What does their car look like, smell like? Has he/she ever been to the other side of the state? Write it down!
  • Show what your setting looks like, don’t tell us what it looks like. Instead of saying that there was a “red house with white shutters and a white porch,” show us what it looks like, for example, “The house was dull from years of rain and whether, the red paint chipping away onto the clean porch.” It’s okay to not tell us the color of every little thing that’s in the setting – give us what we need, but show us, don’t tell us.
  • How does the character act in this setting? Take your main character and place them in the setting you’re thinking of. Do they fit in? How do they feel when they’re there? Are there a lot of memories for them there? Do they associate some event with the location? Write it down and incorporate it into your story if you like.

Though these are just a few tips, there are always hundreds of thousands of resources you can find out there on the Internet and in libraries and bookstores. But for the sake of my mini-series, try to utilize the tips and start jotting ideas down for your story.

If the characters are the backbone of a story, then the setting is the blood of the story. It provides the story with filler and it gives the character a place to live and grow. Without a setting, all you have is a character, and where can you go with just a character without having some sort of setting?

Take the time to plan out your setting, from sky to grass, from mountain to sea, from house to skyscraper, but sure to include every detail that you can about your setting. Placing your character(s) there and making them feel at home will be its own project, but as long as you mold the setting around your character, they should fit together nicely!

Next time I’ll be talking about the content of the story, a.k.a. the body of the story. I’ll provide some tips on how to start and finish the story, and how to not lose the climax of it.

Optional: Tell me your new setting and how you came to the conclusion for it!

Creating a Story 101

Creating a story is like creating a baby: you have to love the idea before pursuing it.

Okay, well that sounded like an odd example, but it’s true! If you don’t love your plot or idea for a story, then what’s the point in even writing it?

If your objective is to reach out to an audience of high school girls, write a book about teen love or paranormal romance (are vampires still in?). If you’re writing to an audience of students in college, then make it sound more formal, but relatable. If you’re writing for a broad scope of sci-fi/fantasy fanatics, include awesome details about your setting so the person can imagine themselves walking inside of that world.

Whoever your audience is, creating the first words to a story can be hard. I, myself, find the hardest part of writing a story, whether it be flash fiction or a full out novel, it is always the middle of the story that’s the hardest. Beginning it is easy – continuing with it is hard.

I’m going to give a few tips as to what I think are helpful ways to creating a story. These have worked for me in the past, but they don’t always work for everyone.

  1. Start with the title. I know, sounds crazy, right? Most people add the title last to their piece of work, but I’ve found it to be the leading cause to starting the first sentence of my story.
  2. Start by writing, “Once upon a time…” Yeah, yeah, it’s corny, but it’s a good segue into starting a story. You don’t necessarily have to keep it once you’ve got your gears turning, but it can help in the process.
  3. Start with the end. It can feel weird to start with the end of your story, but if you know where your story is eventually going to end up you can then plot and think about what you want to happen that leads up to that moment.

Those are just a few simple tips to get you going. I’m sure you can think of, and find, many more ways to start a story, but I figure that this will at least help get the juices flowing and the gears turning.

Now I want you to actually write the beginning (or end) of your story. Go on, do it right now. I want this to be an interactive experience, so start writing by using one of my three tips above. If you find that you’ve gotten stuck, don’t worry, just stop and come back to this once you’re done.

Okay, you’ve got some things written up? Great!

Now that you have the beginning (or end) of your story, look at what you’ve written. Read over it and see if there’s anything you want to change or add just to the piece you have.

Sometimes the easy part is writing the beginning, but figuring out if you have an idea that’s viable or that’s entertaining and will keep the reader on the edge of their seat is the really hard part. Don’t worry so much about whether or not someone else is going to like it right now – do you like it? If you don’t like it, then there’s no point in writing it.

Now that you have the beginning of your story, think more in depth about what you’re writing. Maybe even before you begin a story you want to make an outline of who your characters are, the setting, the time period, the main plot, the climax, etc. There are different methods that work for everyone.

Think about your characters for a second. Who are they? Are they you? Are they your best friend from elementary school? Are they the bullies from your neighborhood? Or are they even your pet? Whoever they are, you have to come up with a personality for them. Don’t make them into average Mary and Gary Sues. No, you want them to be different and creative! Here’s a few tips to think about how you can think about your characters as you’re writing them:

  1. Create their own separate folder with all personality and appearance traits and ideas. Not only will this help to organize your thoughts, but seeing them in front of you will help you to realize whether or not your character is too ordinary and overused, or if you think you’ve found a keeper.
  2. Don’t make too many characters at once; just stick with the main character and maybe one supporting character for now. You’ve only just begun, so don’t throw in all ten characters (or more or less) at once at the very beginning. You need to get a feel for the character who’s going to be your main hero/heroine in the story before you add in the supporting cast.
  3. Think about how they would react, feel, think, etc in the environment you’re placing them in. If you’re going to have a young cyborg adult living in the Amazon Jungle with no real reason as to why he/she is there, then you might want to either rethink your character or your setting.
  4. Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and make the main character a little “messed up” in the head or have a super traumatic (or lack thereof) backstory. Or even make your main character the villain and make some awesome twists throughout. Don’t be afraid to take big leaps that may be “out of the norm” for a lot of popular story ideas today.

Characters are the heart and meat of your story, so think carefully when creating them.

If you haven’t done so already (especially since I made you write the beginning of your story), create some characters. But first, just start with one main character. Is it male or female? What is his/her sexual orientation? What does he/she believe? What kind of education does this person (is it a person?) have? Who can he/she trust? Did he/she have a tragic backstory or did he/she lived a charmed life? Is he/she tall and lean or short and pudgy? Is he/she the villain or the hero/heroine? Write down your main characters from appearance to the inner workings of their mind (and if you can’t figure it all out, don’t worry, your characters usually come to life on the page on their own without your knowing).

Now that you’ve got your main character figured out, do the same for your first supporting character.

When you’ve got all of that figured out, try thinking about your plot and your setting. These are entirely up to you and you can base them on either real life situations or you can make them totally out of this world. Try your hand at both and maybe you’ll find that you like one over the other, or that you want to somehow combine the two. Either way, think about what you’ve read in the past and what has struck you as really cool or really fascinating.

Story writing has a lot of elements to it, and though I’ve barely scratched the surface, I’m sure that if you start writing and are able to work through getting to know your characters, your setting, and more, that you will find yourself successfully writing a masterpiece (in your eyes or in the eyes of a publisher). Get to work and start writing your story!