Every writer is different, but there’s a few basic, well proven, tactics to keep the person who creates world happy in their own.
Write for yourself. Write the story you want to write, the way you want to write it, because in the end, you’re the one doing all the work! If you can’t enjoy the process, then it’s work. Not the fun work, the kind of work you have to go visit a bar afterwards to get rid of the dread. Believe it or not, your story will have little remnants of your psyche when you’re done; and if you didn’t like the story or enjoy the writing of it, it will show. So in the end, if you’re not writing the story you want to write and enjoying it as you go, then readers won’t either! Then what’s the point?
Don’t be afraid to write as freely as you please.While you’re writing that story you know will never sell, just because you like it, make sure not to restrict yourself to certain subjects or certain scenes. Would your friend gasp if they saw you writing Vampires? Or Romance? Or Vampire Romance? If it’s something you want to write, then write it freely and without guilt, to the full capacity of your desire and then sit back and decide if you want others to see it.
Keep your Mind Palace (mental writing place) sacred. Don’t go letting everyone in! It’s tempting, especially if you’re surrounded by supportive writers and readers who are always excited to see more of your stuff. But when everyone is in your headspace, there’s no room for you. You’ll end up trampling the advice to ‘Write for yourself’, because it’s hard not to be influenced by people who have a hand on your agenda.
You need to write with the door closed, so it’s only you who gets to see the writing process and make the calls. Then, once you’re finished, fling open the door and let all the enthusiastic others in to enjoy the profit. You’ll want to share, you’ll want to include others, but it’s desperately important to value the privacy of your own writing headspace. When they’re others inside, it changes how you look at things. You end up looking through their eyes and through your own.
Write often: If this is something you love, if this is something you thrive on, then you need to keep in contact with it. Those first few words may be hard, but it’s like reworking the muscles after a break. It’s only the first few moments, and then it will open up and you’ll feel that connection that you came for to begin with; that fulfillment of words on a page or a world suddenly tangible. The longer breaks you take or the more you avoid it, the harder it will be to start again. Keep in constant practice with it – for an hour a day or ten minutes – and the craft will come easily to you, and you’ll have the strongest connection. It’ll eliminate those sudden declines in quality and you’ll feel more centered with the world.
Read often. Just as important as writing often is to read often. You’re looking at the finished products of your craft and it both gives you field tips on how to write your own but encouragement that it can be done. Read broadly over all genres and all writing styles, to see what new things could inspire you and what horrible mistakes to avoid yourself. Read deeply; take the time to study the words or slip yourself into the character’s voice and absorb it in. Absorb what was good about it and add it to your own; while taking note of what was done bad and improve upon it. Let yourself get whisked away by the story, the voice, the character and then find out how they did it so you can do it yourself; even better.
Keep musing even when you’re not writing. Let the stories and the characters stay in your head. Some of the best plotting is done when you’re away from the story, so don’t push away the talking of the characters or the forming of new plots just because you’re not close to a pen. It’s better to have had the idea and lost it, than to have not had it at all. Whatever you focus on will grow, so let the story continue to churn and boil in your head all the time; and in the process, it will develop into something much richer. You’re a writer, this is what you do. And often times you’ll never feel as centered in the world as when you have a story in your head.
Take time to draw from inspiration. Go ahead and spare that extra time looking through pictures that inspire you or certain lines that spark a story in your mind. Collect things around you that encourage writing and cultivate your Mind Palace; such as certain music that reminds you of a character, a picture so powerful that it tells the story all at once, or a line of dialogue that you want to follow. Have inspiration at hand, and then muse on it when you’re not writing, so it can grow.
In the end, just put your hands to the keys and let it lead you.
Our most recent post on our blog howtofightwrite covers some common flaws that most writers find when working on their fight scenes and characters. In this post, we offer five simple ways to overcome those problems.
I made these as a way to compile all the geographical vocabulary that I thought was useful and interesting for writers. Some descriptors share categories, and some are simplified, but for the most part everything is in its proper place. Not all the words are as useable as others, and some might take tricky wording to pull off, but I hope these prove useful to all you writers out there!
(save the images to zoom in on the pics)
Riots vary widely.
- What it Looks Like: It might start out as a peaceful protest and law enforcement might be the ones who start the riot. This is common. Riots can be small or large. They can be in a small space or they can spread out over a large area. There might be looting in stores, people running away, people lying in the street, people climbing things to get away from whatever is on the ground. Look for some videos of riots and find one that is similar to yours.
- What it smells like: It might not smell like anything out of the ordinary. It might smell like blood or like a certain gas. Your character, if in a tight space, might smell sweat and other people.
- What it sounds like: Again, this can vary. It might be loud and it might not be. People might be screaming or shouting. There might be gunfire or people falling on the ground or car alarms going off. Like I said above, looking at videos of riots can help you with this.
- How they end: This depends on the technology and what law enforcement is allowed to use. Do they have protective gear? Guns? Pepper spray? Gas of some kind? Tanks? Swords? Knives? Clubs? Whips? Magic? Do they arrest people or just chase them away? Do they attack them? Do people run away in fear or do they stand their ground until they are all injured or arrested?
I would also suggest personal accounts of riots on sites like experience project.
Book Ideas for Young Writers (a good list of ideas for creative writing projects)
25 Ways to Plot, Plan, and Prep Your Story (in case you can’t figure out how you want to outline your story…)
The only thing you need (seriously) is Chuck Wendig’s editing trilogy. It provides a thorough action plan and checklist for what you should be editing.
Query Shark (This site criticizes real query letters. An EXTREMELY valuable tool for learning how agents approach query letters.)
25 STEPS TO BEING A TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED AUTHOR: LAZY BASTARD EDITION (A fantastic post that covers EVERYTHING you should do and expect from the publishing process)
How to Beat Procrastination (with science!)
How to Go from Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day (A famous post. The real deal. Solid advice for increasing the focus and speed of your writing.)
I will be editing this list over time. Stay tuned.
When is the best time to start revising a manuscript? Largely, usually, most of the time, after the last word of the story has been typed or written. Some writers need to edit as they write, and as long as it isn’t inhibiting actual progress of the word count, this is totally okay. Editing while writing can help more than hurt.
But if you allow yourself to start revising before the story’s finished, and then consequently never finish, it might be because your stream of thought is being attacked by your critical eye. It’s similar to the difference between reading for pleasure and reading critically and analytically. Writing because you love writing should always come first. Writing because you want to write well comes after.
Being hyper critical as you write instead of after you’ve already written can really hinder your writing process. It’s the difference between, “Everything I write sucks” and “I don’t even care if it sucks, I’ll make it better when I’m done,” and it can really get to you. This is why it’s important to keep the writing process and the revising process separate.
Here are a few tips on how to tackle revising, whether you’re still writing or finished:
- Take notes as you write. Instead of stopping your momentum altogether because a change needs to be made in a prior scene, create a new document or a take a notebook and list changes that need to be made during the revision process after the story’s finished. Be specific, mark the exact pages or scenes so you’ll come back and still remember what the heck you were talking about. Then, continue writing.
- Annotate your outline in another color. As you make changes to your story during the writing process, mark your outline so you know exactly what you did and where, maybe even why. (Or, use differently colored post-its or notecards if you use those methods for outlining.) This is an awesome reference for when you come back during the revision process, but it’s also super convenient to refer back to as you’re writing, keeping you from falling into the trap of rereading and slipping into the critical editor mode prematurely.
- If you have trouble keeping yourself from going back to reread, and it’s keeping you obsessed with perfecting those already written pages, consequently impeding your progress, find a way to put your story out of your immediate reach. If you handwrite your pages, stow them away in a highly inconvenient place, under heavy things, or give them to a trustworthy and respectable friend to keep away from you. If you type up your pages, stow them away on a travel drive and do the same. Maybe email it to them. Always have multiple copies, just in case.
- Once you finish, put it away. No matter how tempting it is to reread all your awesome accomplishment, don’t. It’s all still fresh in your brain. Letting yourself forget about it first will sharpen your revision power later and allow you to see your writing and your story with fresh eyes. How long should you wait? I always recommend at least four weeks, so if you finish your NaNoWriMo novel in the month of November, stash it out of reach for the entire month of December. Don’t look at it again until after the new year.
- Separate yourself from the story. Be critical of the story, but not yourself as a writer. Try as much as you can to separate yourself from what you’ve written, to remove your attachments to your writing and the scenes and the characters. For sure, this isn’t an easy process, but training yourself to think this way over time helps you look at the story more objectively, to see it as a story and not an assessment of your weaknesses. Remember that you’re not even the same writer you are at the end of the story as you were at the beginning.
- Before you start revising, create a new copy of the file. Don’t revise the original if you’re new to the revising process. Create a copy and make all changes to the copy, that way you always have the safety net just in case you delete something that you maybe should have kept.
- When revising, show no mercy. First drafts are not perfect. Neither are second drafts. That awesome metaphor you made doesn’t fit in with the mood of the scene? Slice it. That character with the sly wit doesn’t carry their weight enough to be a main character? Cut them, or merge them with another character. A scene isn’t working out? Drifting from the point or running too long or plagued with too much dialogue? Come down hard on it. Rewrite it if you have to. Identify parts of the story that can be improved or expanded or cut, then show no mercy.
- Feeling down about the story? Go to your writing buddies. Have them read and tell you everything they liked about it. It’s completely normal to feel like the story isn’t working, or isn’t good enough, or is too much like other popular books already on the shelves. These thoughts are normal, they happen, even to published authors. Finding supportive writing buddies and asking them to inflate your ego is absolutely okay. Working on one story, spending so much time on it that you’re sick of it like an annoying roommate, can get you down, but don’t let it defeat you.
- Frustrated? Ready to delete everything? Put it away for a while. At this point, you won’t be able to look at the story objectively, and you may do more harm than good during the process. So, stick it out of sight for a while and work on something else in the meantime.
Additional stuff and stuff:
- You’ve finished your manuscript! Now what?
- Understanding Editing: Revising vs. Proofreading
- Editing Checklist
- Revision sucks but doesn’t have to suck
- Five quick steps to get into revising that manuscript
- 25 Steps To Edit The Merciful Suck Out of Your Story
- When to say you’re done revising
- TWC’s Beta List
- Tips on taking critique
- Tips on giving critique
- What to do with bad writing advice
- Additional insight on bad writing advice
As always, good luck!
This is a gold mine, but why isn’t Yeah Write on it?!
- Dive reflex
- Mermaid anatomy
- Facts and Legends
- Types, types 2, types 3
- Symbolism and History
- Mockumentary, mockumentary whole
Species. Most agree merpeople are some strange mix of mammal and fish. You should probably determine to what extent merpeople are one or the other.
- Fish. Fish have gills to help them take oxygen from the water. Some fish (like beta fish and arapaima) also need oxygen from the air; these fish usually live in freshwater. A fish’s tail moves in a side-to-side manner. Fish have extra fins to help them maneuver. Fish are cold-blooded and covered in scales, which protect them and can provide camouflage.
- Mammal. Dolphin-like mammals (cetaceans) are totally dependent on air for oxygen. Their tails move in a up-and-down manner and have a different fin orientation. Cetaceans communicate and navigate via echolocation. They are warm-blooded. Cetaceans have hairless skin that easily scars. I used cetaceans for this post, because that is what many merpeople are based off, but you can also use mammals like otters, pinnipeds (see selkies), manatees, and dugongs.
There is an allure to writing lawless areas, the Wild West with duels every other day or fantastical inner cities with areas that that police can’t reach. The problem is that these areas, while existing, don’t always exist how people see them in stories. There are essentially three aspects to writing a region like this: lawlessness, anarchy, and power vacuums.
True lawlessness, where there are no written or unwritten laws of any kind, is virtually impossible to maintain. Societal norms act as a set of unwritten laws, where the punishment may not be imprisonment or fine but is instead isolation, shaming, or one of many other such responses. An area with no written laws is more likely to exist, especially in a tribal or splintered region where there may not be any sort of central government, but if there aren’t written laws, there will probably at least be some set of spoken and generally accepted rules.
Places can have actions be legal (or illegal) that way in wherever you are from, and that does not mean that they are lawless. For example, Taliban-controlled Afghanistan experienced mass numbers of rapes and murders while being a very heavily controlled and structured region. In the drug-lord controlled slums, the drug lords would set the rules. Rape might be commonplace while theft is highly punishable. Stealing from unprotected stores might be allowed while stealing from the main power might be entirely forbidden. These aren’t laws that you might be used to, but they are still rules with a governing and enforcing body behind them.
Anarchy in a political sense is a lack of a centralized government or overarching authority, which is how I’m going to use it in this part. While there is an implication of violence associated with the term, violence is not necessary in an anarchic system. As proof, in international relations, the world is considered to be anarchic because there is no hegemonic power that rules the world. This works—clearly—on a macro level. On a micro level, this does not work quite as well, because while centralized authorities provide clear rules, they also provide enforcement and protection. In a town, for instance, the town government sets the town laws and enforces them with the police force. If this didn’t happen, there would be a lot of violence initially during the power vacuum (which will be covered in a little bit) and then makeshift authorities would inevitably set themselves up and take control.
At some point, there will have to be some sort of ruling body, and if it is not a centralized one—democratically elected or not—it will end up being made up of whoever has the best combination of power and authority to take control That may be one person/group or it could be a number, in the case of something like warlords. Communities may also set up their own makeshift governments led by elders or religious or military leaders who make decisions based on whatever authority the people in the community give them.
Power vacuums are situations where there is no central government so everybody who wants power will rush in and try to seize power. There are a number of situations where this happens.
Regime change is one of the main examples of where power vacuums can and will form. Especially in the case of civil war with a number of factions fighting against the government, if the government is overthrown, there will be a rush for power between many or all of these factions. If a major part of the civil war or civil unrest was to form a democratic government, this may happen semi-peacefully, but as seen in Egypt post-Arab Spring, that cannot be counted on. Especially when religion or deep-rooted cultural differences play a role in the situation, democratic election results can still lead to violence.
Unstructured settlement of new land can also lead to anarchic systems and power vacuums. If land is settled by people who were not specifically sent out with a government in place, there will probably be a rush for power to take control of the region.
Areas that break off from their mother country can experience power vacuums. An area may split off and either officially or unofficially become autonomous, but that does not automatically mean that they already have a government—especially a fully functional and effective one. As with a civil war, the factions that worked together to facilitate the split might and likely will end up turning against each other when it comes to controlling the new region.
Having a dark, violent region is possible and entirely plausible to write about, but while doing that, one must consider how it got that way and to what extent the anarchy and lawlessness extends. There will virtually never be no rules, so you need to figure out what the laws would be and who would want them to be that way.