The 2 Cs in Storytelling, Part Two: Climax

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(Photo credit to: Donnie Nunley, on Flickr)

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of “climax” is:

the most exciting and important part of a story, play, or movie that occurs usually at or near the end

: the most interesting and exciting part of something : the high point
To some the climax comes when the resolution or answer to a quest occurs; while to others it is when the apex of the action occurs.

I’ve learned that whichever it ends up being, everything else in the book has to prepare for that moment. Each chapter needs to be one step towards it. Each scene needs have to an importance to that climax. It is kind of like the compass of the book, the characters are on a journey but they still must stay on course.

The center of the tale is a perilous place where many writers can feel like they’ve lost their way. But if they remember the motivation behind their characters or their end goal, it can help them to get back on track.

When this happens to me I try to ask myself questions, for example:

~Has So&So gotten what they wanted in the beginning?

If not then I ask, what needs to happen before they do?

~Has their problem been resolved yet?

If not then I ask, what events need to occur before that happens?
What do you do to direct your characters towards the climax of their tale? 

The 2 Cs in Storytelling, Part 1: Conflict

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(Photo credit to: Jack Fussell, on Flickr)
I’ve been reading a lot of Wattpad stories lately and while doing so I’ve been learning a lot of lessons as a writer.
I’ve learned about what certain audiences crave. Thus, I’ve come to think more about what kind of audience I’m hoping my book will have.
I’ve also learned more about conflict and climaxes. I’ve found that although a story might be cute or “fluffy” with no conflict, without a defining moment or climax I can quickly lose interest.
I’ve read several stories that seem to drag on, and never actually go anywhere.
Whereas there have been other tales that have had all their chapters and scenes leading up to one defining moment; and I find I tend to eat those stories up more than the other kind.
What is it about the element of conflict that makes a story more interesting?
For me it’s all about the characters, because its often in the face of conflict that a character’s development truly shines. Conflict will force a character to act and they will show what they are made of. In the face of conflict they will show both their weaknesses and strengths. Fiction often mimics life in this way and that’s why I think we draw strength from reading about characters battling their own conflicts.
What about the defining moment of the tale? Next week my blog post will cover the other “C” in storytelling, the Climax.
As a reader how do you feel about conflict? As a writer how do you incorporate conflict in your work?

Writer’s Wall: The Power of Music

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(Photo credit to: Petras Gagilas, on Flickr)

Today I’d like to talk about the nearly magical cure for a writer’s wall.

Music.

Sometimes nothing seems to work to absolve a writer’s block.

You’ve gone outside, experienced new things, soaked in nature, made awesome mood boards and even tried your hand at vignettes.

The one thing you haven’t tried is getting lost into some magnificent instrumentals.

The wonderful thing about music is that it takes you away. You will be one moment listening and the next you are WITHIN the music itself. You are soaked into the lines of melody. You become one with it.

Music has the power to transport you to a place between dreams and the corners of your imagination.

This can happen with really any kind of music, but when you are writing a fiction novel sometimes it is best to stick to a theme.

Here are a couple of examples:

For my novel “A Victorian Tale” I found that music from and inspired by the Victorian era was very helpful when writing. I also added some steam-punk music and some sprinkling of sci-fi.

  • My Youtube playlist had music from various soundtracks and orchestrations made from users that fit to different thematic plots within my story.
  • My itunes playlist holds music from the soundtracks of “Becoming Jane”, “Pride & Prejudice”, and even “Doctor Who”. One of favorite finds on itunes was an album called “Tales of Steampunk London” by composer Jason Cullimore. The album perfectly portrays so many of the different elements in my novel.

For my Wattpad novel “The Land of Fear” I found music that reminded me of arid desert lands, ancient kings and lost worlds.

  • One of my go-to places for story inspiration through  music for TLoF is Pandora, there I have a station called “Marco Polo” (song by: Loreena Mckennitt) that has a good mix of music that is quite inspiring for my story.
  • My other source is my itunes playlist that has a mixture of soundtracks from “The Mummy”, “Faith” (kdrama) and plenty of soundtracks composed by Two Steps From Hell.

 

Do you use music to cure your writer’s block/wall? What kind of music do you listen to?

 

“The Land of Fear”

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Cover made by: xXArachnidXx

On March 27th of this year I took a leap that I had been debating upon seriously for a little less than a month, but had thought about for over a year.

I published my chapter of my current MS, “The Land of Fear.”

As my husband put nicely, “It’s a risk, but I think it’s worth it.”

The risk being my fear of someone stealing my story. But that’s the thing, they would not have my voice and they don’t have the world in their mind. I realized it wouldn’t be impossible for someone to steal it but I thought of something more important than that.

I want to know what readers around the world would think about my writing. Wattpad gives me the chance to find out. I’m willing to take the risk if that means I get people to read my work. Isn’t that why most of us write?

It’s not for the money…no that’s unrealistic…No it’s for the rush we get when our fingers speed across a paper our pen grasped tightly between our digits. We write to explore new worlds and new minds. We write so that other’s can see a different point of you. We write to make a change, even if its to the smallest degree.

Are you a writer on Wattpad? Have you ever given your writing out for free? What are your thoughts on this?

How to Write When You Are Sick…

 

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(Photo credit: Melanie Hayes, on Flickr)

I’ve been dealing with various illnesses for quite some time now. I feel as if I’ve become pretty adept at finding ways to write even when the world feels like it is turning on its head. And when I say that I mean it literally; among other things something I suffer from regularly is vertigo.

It can be really hard to formulate thoughts, write them down or even type when it feels as if you are doing everything sideways.

Here’s the key though: I write whatever I can.

I write whatever comes to mind. I write a vignette of my day, or even sometimes whatever comes off the top of my head. I write about what I’m feeling, my symptoms and how my day has been.

It’s important that no matter what happens you don’t allow guilt overwhelm you. As a writer you will feel as if you should be writing something else; your MS, your poetry, ect. But sometimes all you can do is eke out those few sentences, and THAT IS OK.

The important thing is for you to keep writing.

Have you ever felt this way? How do you keep writing even when you are “under the weather”?

Fanfiction: Good or Bad?

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(Photo credit to: Caitlin ‘Caity’ Tobias, on Flickr)

In the last couple of days original thought both fantastical and realistic have failed me. So instead of editing or continuing to work on WIP, I’ve began to write fanfiction again.

For a while I felt guilty and ashamed that I was writing fanfiction, because for quite some time there’s been a sort of stigma regarding that kind of writing.

But then something odd happened: I noticed how much my writing has improved over time.

Suddenly I had a realization:  who cares if I’m taking a mini-break from my WIP? The important thing is that I’m still writing.

I will get over this dry spell for WIP, and when I do I will be stronger; because I didn’t stop even when the writer’s wall slammed into me.

 

Have you ever had moments of self-doubt like this? Moments when you question what you are writing? What do you think of fanfiction? 

 

The Writer’s Tag

Today I found an amazing new blog by Stef Gonzaga. She has written 3 e-books, and her poetry is beautiful. She’s a very sincere human being, and I have fallen for her blog. It’s definitely worth a look.
Today I’m am going to follow in her suit and do “The Writer’s Tag.”
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(Photo credit to THOR, on Flickr)
So without any further ado, here’s the questions:
1) What type of writing do you do?
I write poetry, vignettes, and fiction.
2) What genres or topics do you write about?
I love writing in the sci-fi/fantasy genre. Creating new worlds is exciting to me. I also love delving into the minds of my characters and finding out what makes them tick.
3) How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since I could write. Before I could write, I made up songs about stories. & before I could speak I dreamed of worlds never seen before.
4) Are you published?
Not yet, but it is one of goals for the 2017.
5) What was the first story you ever wrote?
This is a hard one for me. I know when I was 4 or 5, I wrote about the time I “flew” off a swing. I’m not sure if that was the first though, but I’m pretty sure it was one of the first ones I wrote in book format. I would have a title page and then I would draw pictures above the words. My mom would staple the pages together with 3 staples so it would open and turn like a book.
6) Why do you write?
I write because I need to. If I don’t write, stories haunt me. The characters beat down the doors of my mind and beg me to be written. My dreams become plagued with stories on loop. And so I write. I write because I love to write. I write because storytelling is a part of me.
7) How do you find time to write?
I usually write after work. I work various shifts each week, so basically I write whenever I find time to.
8) When & where are the best times to write?
I tend to write at night mostly. But I’m not sure if that’s technically the best time for me to write or not. It depends. I’m still learning about my internal time-clock.
I tend to write in bed, since we have a very small apartment. Our bedroom seems to be the quietest room of the house, especially when my husband is gaming.
9) Favorite food/drinks while writing?
I tend to crave salty and sweet things in a loop. So either I’ll have some Cheetos or parsnip chips; or on the sweet side a chocolate bar or some semi-sweet chocolate chips. Tea tends to be the tonic I favor during writing, but it often is lukewarm by the time I get to drinking it.
10) Your writing playlist?
It depends on what I’m writing.
If I’m writing a blog post, I favor silence.
If I’m writing my current WIP, “The Land of Fear”, I tend to have my “Marco Polo” Pandora station on.
& if I’m editing “A Victorian Tale” I have a playlist via iTunes of various Victorian and Steam-punk soundtracks.
11) What do family/friends/loved ones think of you writing?
At first most thought of it as a hobby, but after the last year of me writing every single day they have come to see how important it is to me.
12) Parts of writing you enjoy the most?
I love grand reveals, awkward moments and witty dialogue.
13) Parts of writing you find challenging?
Beginnings and middles.
14) What do you use to write with and on?
I use whatever that is on hand. If I’m out and about, I will write on a notepad or enter it into Notepad on my iPhone. At home I tend to write on my laptop, or if I’m really tired on my phone. At work, pen and paper or occasionally I’ll email myself a thought or two.
15) How do you overcome writer’s block?
I just keep writing. If my fingers won’t move for my stories then I write about reality.
I remind myself that the first draft is always going to be bad, that I can edit later.
I listen to thematic music, watch a movie in the genre of my writing, or browse Pinterest for art that will inspire a scene.
I put my head down, pull through and write.
16) How do you motivate yourself to write?
“You can do this Kaitlin!” “You’ve written when you had a migraine, when you had vertigo and when things were at their worst; you are capable!” “You are capable for greatness…or just typing out at least 150 words. Who knows where that will take you!”
17) Authors who inspire you as a writer?
Hmm…I’ve been thinking about this one all day today and yet I don’t have an answer for this one yet.
18) Books that inspire you as a writer?
I’m sorry drawing a blank on this one as well.
19) Best advice you’ve gotten as a writer?
Just keep writing!
You write, therefore you ARE a writer!
20) Writing goals this year?
Finish editing my first draft of “A Victorian Tale”.
Finish my first draft of “The Land of Fear”.
Keep to my regular schedule of blogging.
I tag: Rachael Ritchey & anyone else who wishes to do the “Writer’s Tag” next.

Of Horses & Manuscripts

(Photo credit to:
Picdrome Public Domain Pictures, on Flickr)

Owning a horse and writing a manuscript are more similar than one may think.

I used to have a horse, her name was Autumn.

We would play tag and I would read to her off the porch of my family’s 100+ year old farm house.

Autumn as a foal was like a mirror image of my 8 year old self back then. Stubborn, strong willed and could not be tamed.

She was the closest thing to a best friend back then and I think I was a little scared of her.

Our manuscripts take up so much of our life, they can become like that bestie that is ALWAYS there. We have a fondness for them but sometimes we need our time to ourselves. And sometimes they can even scare us when they stop eating our plot ideas or they maim our most
favorite and loved character.

They carry our hearts within them and our dreams. Our manuscript can often reflect back the turmoil we may be feeling in our lives at one point or another.

But one of my biggest regrets with Autumn was that I didn’t train her or groom her as well as I should have. When my family moved, we couldn’t take her with us. But because she wasn’t trained we couldn’t sell her either, not that I wanted to, so instead we gave her to our farmer neighbor who already had a dozen horses. I would visit her sometimes over the years. The first couple of visits she would remember me but would turn her nose up in anger before trotting back to me in order to nip my ear or eat my hair.

Over time she forgot me, but I never forgot her.

I still have fond memories of Autumn, but they are bittersweet.

(Photo credit to: Brandy, on Flickr)
The lesson that can be learned from such an experience is this:
Manuscripts hold so much life in them, but without being trained they will end up just grazing for the rest of their lives breeding other ideas.
 
Just like a living thing our stories need to be nurtured and trained.
  • Feed: The more we read and experience life the more we strengthen our stories.
  • Train: Editing is necessary. It helps our stories to flourish and grow.
  • Groom: Polishing our stories and making them sparkle is important. We need show why our manuscript’s tale needs to be told.
  • Love: Be proud of your manuscript. It is it’s own entity and can’t be compared to others. Show it respect and reward it with some TLC by using one of the above options.

 

 
Has this happened to you? Have you let a manuscript go to graze? If so why don’t you go out and give it some TLC.