Tag Archives: writing

*sighs* Poetry

 

I’ve stumbled upon this blog recently, and it’s gotten me really interested in poetry.

Before I read that blog, I had barely looked at poetry; the only time I had written it was the time I was forced to for English class, and I’d rarely read any of it willingly. I knew there was something about lines and feet and meters, but I figured that most poems just rhymed with the exceptions being Free-verse or Haiku, and that was that.

Only now do I realize how wrong I was. Poetry is really something deeper than I realized. It comes from the soul, and is really quite beautiful. The different types of poems; from Luc Bat, Diagonal Acrostic, Sestina, or just a simple Couplet, are really quite amazing and can be quite complex.

I’m not claiming to know a lot about poetry (or even writing prose, for that matter). But that’s something that I definitely want to change. I feel that with writing and gaining skill in poetry, I’ll also gain skill at writing prose, which is still going to remain one of my more prominent art forms.

I apologize for the short post, but I almost forgot about this and I had to write a little quickie.

Kippe

 

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The Marshland of Middle-land

Status: I’m doped up on medicine and I’m really tired. Oh well, here we go!

The middle of the novel, or rather, of anything, is one of the most tedious portions of the story. Though I personally find that the middle is rather tough, but not as tough as making the perfect beginning – a thing I have chronic problems with, the middle is a pretty formidable foe that has caused many an author to toss in the towel, and give up.

Which leads me to this – what is so scary of the middle?

For me, the middle is hard because you don’t know exactly what is going on. When I write my novels, the middle is the largest portion that is unplotted, especially if I’m pantsing a novel. Yet, the middle is also the place where most of the fun stuff in my novels go, because characters grow, they fall in love, they are killed, they are reborn all in the middle. The middle is where you have the greatest liberty and freedom to do anything you wish. The only problem is figuring out what you want to do.

The middle is a daunting passage of which many people give up on because they cannot tell when it might end. In fact, the fact that the middle even exists turns off many prospective writers. “How will I even reach the end?” Some will lament.

You reach the end by writing, I reply.

There really is no other way to reach the end but by writing onwards. Press onwards, and when you reach the end then you can look back and then chart the route you have made. Sure, it may seem inelegant and indulgent – but the first draft is always inelegant, ugly, and crude. It is only when you see the tracks you have made in the middle that you know where you can improve. And so, one of the biggest ways that helps you to get through the middle is to never look at the ending.

That’s right. You just go into the novel every day, you just sit yourself down, and keep writing. Just keep writing, just keep getting your characters to move onwards, to press forth, and eventually you will reach the end. It will surprise you, that sometimes the ending might come at that point, but the important thing to note is that the ending arrived while you were not focusing on it.

I’m keeping to a commitment myself to write a few hundred words a day on this fanfiction, and though I can guess at how the ending will be, the middle looms before me. And thusly, I cast aside my thoughts of the end, and focus on the middle. I plan for the present, I work for the present, and I shall be ever more surprised when the ending comes to me. The middle is nothing to be afraid of when you put your mind to it and work through it in sustainable bites and pieces.

Every journey begins with a single step, and the middle fits with this idea. To get through the middle, you take that step, and you keep forcing one foot in front of the other till you get to the end.

It’s really that simple. Give it a shot!

Jas


Enter Stage Right

Whenever someone says “I’m a writer,” they’re not telling you very much. They could be saying “I write short stories,” “I write poems,” or “I write essays for my high school English class.” The fact of the matter is that there is a huge range of writers, from those focusing on short stories to essays to everything in between. One type of writing that tends to go over the heads of most people is script writing. Unless you are a script writer or you’ve been involved in theater, you’ve likely not had much to do with this aspect of writing. Unfortunately, you’re undervaluing a major part of our society. Without scripts, there would be no television shows, no movies, no plays, no musicals. A great deal of your entertainment hinges on scripts and the people who write them.

There is a huge variety in script writing, just as there is in novel writing and poem writing. They can be incredibly formal, with every move charted out. They can also be no more than just a scribbled note of who stands where and who says what. You’ve probably written one of these informal scripts. If you’ve had to give a presentation in class, you’ve scripted your speech. If  you’ve made a Youtube video (that’s not impromptu), you’ve scripted that. Scripting is not hard to do.

However, it is hard write a good script. Script writing is something that anyone can do but not anyone can do well. Some things to consider:

  • One must be doubly aware of the basic mechanics of script writing. The average person rarely reads scripts, so it is unlikely that you will have a great enough familiarity with scripts to be able to write one just by imitation. Therefore, you should take the opportunity to read as many scripts as possible and study the basic format of a script.
  • Know the terms used in script writing. Do you know what a crawl is? Or a swish pan? Do you know how to use an establishing shot? Read up on the terminology used in script writing. Make sure you understand how these things are used in the script and how they translate to the performance.
  • Know the differences between types of scripts. There are different formats for scripting a play as opposed to an episode of Friends or a movie. Filmed and performed scripts are read differently. You have to have a grasp on your story and how it would best be translated into reality. Know the pros and cons of each kind of script.

These points are more important than anything. Before you can get anywhere in script writing, you need to have a solid grounding. Without that, it won’t matter one bit how great your understanding of diction or characterization or story flow.


A Certain Sensitivity

There are certain subjects that, in many social circles, are considered taboo. Some people will treat these subjects insultingly or cruelly. Some will misrepresent or dismiss them. Still others will, in response to others’ treatments, ignore any objective view of the subjective, defending them boldly, bravely, and blindly against everyone. Controversial topics are often avoided due to these treatments, and thus, we develop a certain sensitivity to them. When reading about topics such as racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, and more, we unconsciously look for any nuance that may or may not indicate a “wrong” bias towards the issue. We seek any excuse to cry foul. Whether we realize it or not, our society’s past handlings of controversial topics has encouraged us to expect nothing but biased, high-handed insults, and so we label an innocent piece as “racist” or “sexist” without ever really reading it. (Then, too, there are works that really are racist or sexist.) Yes, there are those who can look past that and see what is really being said. But there are also those (myself included) who, upon seeing that a work deals with a controversial topic, proceed warily, expecting to meet with misinformation, ignorance, and hate.

Now, this puts a writer in a very difficult position. When taking on a controversial topic, we can pick one of three sides: for it, against it, or neutral. Obviously, each position will have opposition. If you take one side definitively, then the other side will turn up their nose or openly condemn you. If you stay neutral, then you risk both sides arguing over what you’re “really” saying and condemning you for being “afraid to take a side.” I’ll warn you now: You can’t please everyone. The best you can do is take your position and stick with it. A controversial topic has that name for a reason.

There is  one thing that I cannot stress enough, though, when dealing with one of these topics. No matter what side you do or don’t take, always treat the subject, the people being discussed, and the other half of the argument with respect and tact. In every issue, there are at least two sides. Two sides that deeply believe they are right. Two sides who are looking for every opportunity to claim insult from their opponent’s own words. If you are writing about such an issue in fiction, then you have a unique position of needing to know, at least on a cursory level, both sides of an issue. You must be able to represent both sides accurately, not just present your own position in a good light and demonize everything else. Realistic representation lends credibility to your characters and plot which will bring the work to life.

There are some things that must remember when writing though. First, don’t beat your audience over the head with your “racism is bad” message. Subtlety is key. Show your readers the evidence they need to come to the conclusion you want. An author can manipulate the reader to see what they see, hear what they hear, and feel what they feel. Take advantage of this. Your readers like to believe they are in control, and having your message spelled bluntly makes them feel you’ve insulted their intelligence. This is bad, and they will instinctively shy away from your work.

Second, there are likely people who disagree with your side of an issue who will start to read your work. Unless you want to completely clear out a portion of your readerbase, you want to not offend these people. Doing this involves my first point very heavily: be subtle about your message and let your reader come to your conclusion without being told. Just as important is to address the topic in a way that shows you understand both positions and are not blatantly misrepresenting one.

Third, separate any disagreement of an idea or position from people, especially people you know. So, don’t insert Evil Character B (who happens to be just like your nemesis in real life) and portrayed him as the epitome of evil or stupidity due to not having the same view as your Awesome Main Character of Good.

Fourth, don’t use biased language when addressing the topic. Biased language gives no acknowledgement that the other side deserves respect. It thrives on insults and literary fallacies, leaving innumerable loopholes in any representation you make. Obviously, not all language that takes a definitive stance is biased; the difference is that biased language puts the focus on detracting from opposition and appearing high and mighty while stanced writing puts the focus on upholding your own side without stooping to dirty tricks.

Fifth, be accurate. I know that we’re all (more or less) very passionate about certain subjects, and this can lead some of us to deliberately misrepresent one or both sides. Don’t do this. Anyone who is reasonably informed on your topic will spot it a mile away and know that you haven’t done your homework.

And, because I have been working on this post for two hours, I think I have exhausted myself  on this potentially controversial topic.

Happy writing, everyone.


There’s a Reason It’s Called “Work”

((Note: This does not refer to the differences between creative writings and essay/report writing, just the distinction between voluntary and assigned writing.))

Everyone writes. There’s no exception to this anymore, not with education being offered and required all over the world. However, the fact that everyone writes does not mean that everyone is a writer. A writer enjoys her work. She writes because it is an action that engages her mind in a pleasing fashion (yes, even when we’re crying over having to kill off a character, it is still a pleasurable act. We are sadistic creatures). She chooses to write and probably does so frequently. When other people see a writer constantly putting pen to paper, they naturally assume that said writer is a freak of nature and enjoys writing anything and everything. Thus, it’s unheard of for a writer to dislike writing for assignments. After all, we writers are so addicted to the written word, we’ll write anything. Right?

BZZZZ!!! Wrong!

Writers are finicky. We write when, where, and what we want to write, and sometimes we still don’t do so (no, I don’t understand it either). With an assignment, all of those choices a writer cherishes are suddenly stripped away. The teacher chooses everything. Subject. Due date. Format. When you can and can’t work on the assignment in class. Depending on your grade level and the teacher’s leniency, you have to deal with content and length limitations. And in the back of your mind, there’s always that hovering knowledge that you have write something with a standard good enough to get a good grade, instead of writing something that you think is good. The work becomes stifling and boring. It’s not something you love, and that shows very clearly in the finished product.

Of course, a non-writer might not understand this distinction. It’s all writing; it should be fun for a writer. Your non-writerly friends might sneer disbelievingly or brush off your comments when you talk about how much you dislike the assignment or can’t get motivated. You’re a writer. You’re not allowed to complain about writing. Ever. Well, when this happens, you can feel free to tell them it’s just as hard, if not harder, for you to write for an assignment than it is for them. I’ll tell you why.

Non-writers have spent their whole academic lives learning how to write in exactly the way that their teachers expect them to write. They don’t have to juggle the way they know how to write with the way they like to write. Writers do. We have expanded our writing abilities and habits beyond what is required in an academic setting. We know different styles and techniques of writing. We address different subjects in different ways. We have experience writing in a setting where we are the ones to determine our writing. While non-writers must rise to the challenge of an assignment, we writers must instead stoop, twist, and bend over backwards to stay inside the limits of these same assignments.

Writers have learned to think and live outside the written box. Non-writers think and live within it. While they learn to grow and stretch to fill that box, we must constrict ourselves to stay inside it.

It’s hard. Of course it is. But  that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Just like we practice writing for ourselves, perhaps we should practice writing for assignments as well. Give yourself an assigned writing. Plan the due date, the genre, and the level of maturity (cursing, violence, gore, sex, etc.). If you get used to writing for your own limitations, then it will be easier to write for your school’s limitations. That’s not to say you should make all your writing assigned; just make some of them assigned. But a good balance between limited and unlimited writing will develop your abilities more widely than if you only write without limitations.

Here’s an assignment for you to get started:

Time Limit: Two weeks

Genre: Mystery

Maturity: PG-13

Happy writing, everyone.


Hello, Muse. Good to see you again.

You’ve all heard of the muse: that which inspires an artist to create. It is the thing that ferrets out a single gem of an idea and coaxes it to blossom into a true story. When you cannot think of a single thing to write, your muse opens the door to inspiration. The muse manifests itself in different ways for different people. For some, it is a person, such as a family member, friend, or significant other. For others, it might be a place, a song, a book, or any object. It could be an activity. It could be anything. You can also have multiple muses. Perhaps you listen to happy songs when you want to write something happy, but reading a sad passage of your favorite book might inspire more melancholy words. There is no muse that has more or less merit than another; they’re all unique and on equal levels. You should recognize that and not limit yourself to one muse nor ridicule another’s muse when it is different from yours.

Now, I urge you to think for a moment. The last time you had an idea for a story, where were you? What were you doing? Who were you talking to or listening to? What was being said and how? What were you looking at?

If you don’t already know what acts as your muse, these questions are useful. Knowing what naturally inspires you is the key to being able to conjure inspiration, not at will, but at least more reliably than just “waiting for it to come to you.” Sometimes, you have to go looking for inspiration. How you use your muse, though…that’s a little trickier. I can’t tell you how to make your muse work. Inspiration isn’t a thing that you can threaten, bludgeon, or trap to get what you want. Inspiration is notoriously hard to trap; it slips through your fingers like mist. It doesn’t respond well to threats, merely runs and hides, cowering in a secret place. Bludgeoning just results in a dead muse. So how does this work, this muse?

You must be gentle and kind. Relaxed, but not quite passive. Be receptive to what’s around you. Don’t analyze. Don’t focus all your attention on it. Just enjoy it. Let your mind wander and go where it will. That’s natural. That’s the whole point. Your muse, essentially, is a tool that will remove the inhibitions you have built up over the years.

Do you remember when you were a child? You had so many ideas for stories that you couldn’t write them all down. You didn’t have to search for inspiration; it was just there. As you got older, you learned what the people around you expected. You had certain expectations that you had to meet, and to be honest, creativity isn’t usually one of them (even art and music classes limit your creativity). When you’ve assimilated all the things that you’re supposed to conform to, there’s no room left for your mind to be saturated openly in creativity. Your mind is regulated, and that makes it harder to find stories. Your muse, though, can work in two ways. You can either be relaxed to the point where your mind pulls down the walls that separate your regulated thoughts from your unregulated, creative thoughts, letting your creativity mingle peacefully all throughout your thoughts (this would be sparked most likely by music, art, etc.). Or you could be stimulated to break through the walls separating your thought and latch onto a streak of creativity that mirrors your muse (this would be more likely caused by a phrase you hear or a passage you read in a book, where the jump from muse to idea is pretty quick). One your muse has opened up your mind, it will steer your consciousness toward an idea that closely matches it.

Please note that I’m not a psychologist. This isn’t “officially” or “scientifically” what happens with your muse. This is simply what I’ve observed and what it seems like to me. The music that I listen to relaxes me and helps me to shut out the world and how the world has taught me to think. My thoughts wander toward an idea that I latch onto, develop, and write down.

Your muse doesn’t always work though. It won’t always throw ideas at you. This is normal. You may be too stressed by work/school/life/etc. or burned out from periods of hardcore writing to do anything new. That’s okay. Take a break. Go for a walk, read a book, let your friends know you haven’t forgotten them. It’s fine. Don’t worry. You can always try again later.

Happy writing, everyone. I hope your muses all decide to be helpful.

Fair warning: This next bit may seem a little schizophrenic. I apologize.

This is for when your usual muses aren’t working.

If you’ve gone for a long, long time without writing and can’t think of anything to write, I have an idea that may help (or it may just be fun). I’ve seen a lot of writers online talking about their muses in a way that’s unlike what I’ve been talking about here. They talk as though their muse is an actual person (or persons) inside their head, talking to them, encouraging them, guiding them, etc. Their Muse is a person completely separate from them. I personally think that if you honestly believe there’s a person inside your head apart from yourself, that’s not just a “writerly quirk,” and you need to talk to someone about it. However, I have experienced a time where none of my traditional muses were working, so I wrote a little conversation between myself and my “inner Muse.” It doesn’t matter if you believe in inner Muses; this is a way of temporarily personifying that inner self of you that is in charge of your inspiration. You’re turning yourself into a fictional character briefly to organize your thoughts and try to figure out why you’re not feeling inspired.

I can’t guarantee that this will be helpful in any way. It’s just something I thought I’d share (partly because it’s fun and is a good way to practice writing honest dialogue).

Happy writing, y’all. I’m out.


Simply Inspired

What does it take to inspire? That varies from person to person. For me personally, I take a word, or a phrase, or just some feeling that I have, and continue to develop that into a plot. Oftentimes the original inspiration is lost in building the story; however, that is only to be expected.

What you need to do to find your muse. Listen to music a lot? Well, then just listen to songs. Get a taste for them. While your listening to them, write down how you feel, and go from there. Maybe some people like taking walks, looking to nature for inspiration. Some people may be inspired in completely unexpected places, like in the shower, or driving down the highway in the middle of the night. That’s why it’s always handy to have a pencil and notebook handy. Keep one by your bedside, in case you wake up from a dream that shows promise. Whatever it is, just find your muse.

Hunger