a guide: how i write

how i write.jpg

(This is my 50th post!)

There’s no right or wrong way to write, but here’s the procedure I typically use to begin writing!

  1. GRAB A SNACK.
    Very necessary. Usually it’s something like peanut butter sandwich crackers, or a packet of brownies–whatever happens to be available.
  2. FIND A COMFORTABLE SPOT.
    Usually I sit against my bed with a pillow between us so that the frame doesn’t dig into my back. Surrounding myself with many pillows is even better. Pillows are very useful.
  3. OPEN THE DOCUMENT.
    Although I write short stories in my notebook, I mostly use Google Docs for my larger projects, a.k.a. novels. Not that Google Docs isn’t (very) flawed, but it’s the best resource available to me without paying.
  4. SET A TIME FOR A WORD WAR.
    Some people don’t know what word wars are, so if you’re one of those people, they’re basically set periods of time when you and your friends try to write as much as possible. After the set amount of time is up (usually it lasts from five to fifteen minutes), you tell each other how many words you wrote using the handy-dandy word count tool available on most word processors, and whoever wrote the most words wins. There’s almost always someone available to word war when I want to, which is very fortunate. It helps with motivation, especially if you’re competitive.
  5. CONTINUE WRITING FROM THE LAST WRITTEN SCENE.
    Sometimes it takes a long while to figure out how to continue, because writer’s block is a pain. But usually, if I just start rambling about something in the story (like, say, a fountain), it’ll help me get back into the story. It’s just the first draft, after all; it doesn’t need to flow neatly quite yet.
  6. REMEMBER TO AVOID STEREOTYPES.
    A lot of very minor characters tend to pop up as I’m writing because my characters kind of need to interact with other people. But since really minor characters aren’t as important to develop as major ones, I tend to use a default for all of them until there’s nothing to differentiate them. So whenever a new person comes up in the story, I challenge the original idea for them. Usually I find that the default is Caucasian, male, and abled, so I change that. Of course, you shouldn’t rely on this all the time–that creates an opposite stereotype/default, which is the same problem but on the other end of the scale, resulting in the same flat characters. That’s how a lot of tough, brave heroines have become so cardboard-like in YA fiction, after all.
  7. LEAVE NOTES FOR MYSELF USING GOOGLE DOCS’ COMMENTING CAPABILITY.
    This is really useful because as I’m writing, I know what my writing is lacking in. If I leave it without giving myself a note, then I’ll forget it and have to rely completely on rereading to find what I need to fix. But if I do leave a note for myself, sometimes as simple as highlighting a sentence or a word and writing “check” in the comment section, I can look back on it and see exactly what needs to be fixed or researched.
  8. CHECK WHO WON THE WORD WAR.
    Once all the writing is over, I check with my friends to see who won. Mostly it isn’t me, unless I accidentally cheated the word war and kept writing too long–but that’s not a bad thing! That means I can easily write more with or without another word war to motivate me.
  9. REPEAT STEPS 4-8.
    Self-explanatory; repetitively doing word wars does help me to keep going.

MAGICAL WORD OF THE DAY/WEEK/MONTH/WHATEVER:

Quietus, which means death or something that causes death.

-THE END-

nano 2016: day two

The first day went very well for me! I wrote 1,404 words, which exceeded two out of three of my goals (yes, I had three different word count goals for a single day). Plus the beginning was also what I’d thought out most, so it was pretty easy.

My first sentence:

“You know,” says Tadge, hanging down from the sturdiest branch of his beloved tree, “a tree cannot be cut down unless it chooses that fate.”

I also discovered a lot about my characters (like how Romi believes the best in people while Tadge is more skeptical). Their interactions are very fun to write, and I’ve established quite a lot. Not much of the tree-magic-y stuff, though. It’s also very clear now that I’ve got a lot more worldbuilding to do once I finish the first draft.

Still! I’m very happy with how the first day went.

My favorite part that I’ve written so far is this:

“Everyone will be trying to get a glimpse of you. You very well can’t let them see your hair standing up on end and looking like a bird’s nest.”

“But I like my hair looking like a bird’s nest.”

“So do I, but Mo–”

“Right. Then she won’t like you having grass in your hair, either.”

Romi stops walking, and shakes her head until her braid flies into Tadge’s mouth and he has to spit it out. He stares at her in horror, her hair no doubt sticking up all over the place. “Ro, you can’t go in there looking like that!”

She sticks her tongue out at him. “I’m not the famous tree boy, am I?”

The second day has not gone nearly as well. I have too much homework to have written anything, and so the few hundred words I’ve written today are from this morning and a free moment or two during school. Hopefully I’ll be able to fix that this weekend, though! I think I can.

A TIP: Don’t be afraid to share your writing. Or, alternatively, be afraid but do it anyway. You’re almost always going to get positive feedback, especially from friends, and so it’ll encourage you to share your writing even more. And that’s beneficial to everyone! People get to read more of your awesome writing, and you get some needed feedback.

I let my English teacher read a short story I wrote a few days ago, and she told me that she shared it with the other English teachers, who all went “A freshman wrote this?” It’s very very encouraging to have teachers speak highly of you, so I dare you to share some writing you’re proud of! Let me know how it goes, too.

-THE END-

the dos and don’ts of writing bad guys

DON’T:

  • tell me that the bad guy is “different.”
  • alienate the bad guy so that they are the only flawed, unrelatable character
  • tell me that the reason for their crimes is because of something they believe, or where they’re from, or because of a certain way they identify.
  •  perpetuate stereotypes for the sake of making the bad guy seem awful/scary.

DO:

  • tell me that the line between good and evil is very thin.
  • tell me that the choices a bad guy makes has led them to where they are now.
  • tell me that the bad guy could be anyone. It could be me. It could be you. It could be the people we trust most.

And why should you do this? What benefits does it have?

What this does is that it makes it difficult for readers to blame evil on some aspect of the person that they don’t share. It makes them more aware that their choices make them good or bad, not who they are. And so if they ever fall down that path of evil, their brain doesn’t tell them “oh, you’re not the bad guy because you’re not from a certain religion” or “oh, you’re not a bad guy because your skin color isn’t the same as other bad guys.” Instead, it says, “maybe you’re making the wrong choice. Think about your actions. Are you becoming the bad guy?”

I’m saying this in the context of writing, but really it’s about any type of media. Books. Movies. The news. And this is something I know would make a difference for people in the real world. For me, and everyone else.

So DO tell me that the bad guy is just as human as the rest of us–not as a way of excusing their crimes, but in a way that it serves as a warning.

-THE END-