Posted in Darby

Follow Your Arrow

It’s no secret that a good imagination can go a long way, but it’s always good to have a little travel experience to help flesh out your ideas.

If I’m working on my fantasy novel, I can create anything I want. However, if my story takes place in our world, I’ll need to accurately describe the environments the characters are in. Sure, you can kind of guess, but experiencing these environments first hand will give you much more material to work with.

I’m currently on a road trip to the Grand Canyon from Los Angeles. I purposefully took Route 66 to have more experiences. (This post will be short and sweet since I’m writing it on my phone.) Pulling to the side of the road to touch the black rocks and prickly plant life, feel the oven-like heat, and listen to the sound of desert nothingness is something only a real experience can adequately explain.

More on my trip and how to use vacations to your writing advantage later. For now, I’m off to enjoy America! See y’all in two weeks.

Darby

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Posted in Taylor

My Thoughts on Writer’s Block (Cue Scary Music)

I honestly have no idea what I want to say in this post. I feel like I should come out with some profoundly wise advice that will change your writing game forever—but hey, if I could do that I would be rich.

We’re writing about perspectives this time around, and I still really don’t know what to write about.

So maybe I’ll write about that, about not knowing what to write, about the words not coming, about that frustrating thing that every writer has experienced: Writer’s block.

It’s fun stuff, huh? Sitting around at a blank screen, the cursor winking, mocking you.

We’ve all been there.

But here’s the thing, we all deal with it differently.

Personally, I don’t deal with it.

Yeah, I know how weird that sounds. Hang with me for a second.

Some people say that to get over writer’s block, you have to write. And I have no doubt that that’s true. I’m also sure that I could get over it faster if I did that. But honestly, I HATE writing when I don’t want to. I hate putting meaningless words on a page just so it’s not quite as blank.

Not only do I hate it, but it doesn’t do a lot for my confidence as a writer because I simply sit there thinking about how terrible what I’m writing is.

I don’t like that feeling. So, I try to avoid it.

I use to write everyday. Every. Single. Day. Something, anything. And it worked great! I produced a lot—some good, some not so good. But then life happened. I got busy, and I would skip a day here, and a day there. And now, I write when I WANT to.

Here’s the thing, I have plenty of chores in my life: Take the garbage out, do homework, feed the cat…you get the idea. I don’t want writing to be one of them. I don’t want to sit down at a computer, moan, and start writing because I’m forcing myself to write everday. I want to sit down, and not be able to type fast enough because I’m in love with the idea in my head.

I have a degree in Creative Writing. I also have a degree in Psychology. While I love both fields, I got my Creative Writing degree because it was fun. I loved going to class. I loved learning from some of the best professors. I even loved workshops.

I refuse to let that love turn into work that I don’t even like, which is exactly what it feels like when I write without inspiration.

So, to come full circle: I don’t write when I have writer’s block. I wait it out—not so patiently, I might add. I would like to add here that I might have writer’s block in one area of my writing life and not the other. For example, I might be burned out on fiction, but can churn out a poem no problem. And sometimes, I’m completely cut off from writing for a little while. And I think that’s okay, healthy maybe (or maybe I’m just trying to make myself feel better, who knows).

But as sure as writer’s block is, there’s another sure thing: It always ends. I always come back to the computer. I always come back to my worlds, to my words. And if I can’t do that, then I don’t want to do it at all.

I know my perspective on writer’s block might be strange or unpopular, but it’s mine. It’s what works for me. So, I guess if I had one overall message for this post it would be to handle writer’s block (or any writing issue, really) however the heck you want. There are no rules in this game. There is no write (haha) or wrong.

So, deal with writer’s block, or don’t. As long as it ends, and you’re able to come back to the magic, it doesn’t really matter.

Until next time,

Taylor

Posted in Colleen

Tapes Tell A Story

This morning, I thought I’d talk about a book I read recently. I’d like to give a little insight on it (without giving the plot away, of course) and encourage you to learn a little from it.

TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY is a novel by Jay Asher. In short, the story is about what leads a girl, (Hannah Baker), to commit suicide. And although suicide is a serious topic- not to be taken lightly, I was more intrigued by the way the story was told rather than the actual plot.

You see, before Hannah commits suicide, she makes a collection of cassette tapes. On these tapes, she records herself explaining what led her to killing herself (essentially, the 13 reasons). So the novel is a flash back and forth between real time and hearing what’s on these tapes.

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The story begins in the present with protagonist, Clay Jensen, (who is the listener of said tapes), and flashes to the past every time he presses play on the tape player. I found Asher’s unique way of writing in real time, while recapping the past events through these tapes really neat! The way he intertwines the two perspectives (Hannah’s and Clay’s) is fascinating as well.

As far as the actual story goes, it’s a total page-turner. The chapters are broken up by sides of the cassettes; that made me want to keep reading to see what the next tape would be about.

But, alas, I’m not here to persuade you to read this book. I’m not here to give you a 9th grade book report on it either. I just wanted to share this idea with you so maybe it would inspire you to try some different angles with your writing. Feel free to share with us some of your favorite books and what stands out to you in them. We appreciate your feedback!

Have a great weekend. Stay out of jail and the hospital.

CRCH

PS. You can actually listen to the tapes here.
Creepy? Yes.
But also thought-provoking.
I do recommend you read the book first.

Posted in Jobe Workshop Review

Jobe on Perspective

You write your first novel in a whirlwind of creative abandon. You celebrate, you take your time off–a couple of weeks to a couple of months being the recommended length. You do this so that you can come back to your novel with new writerly perspective, to see it with new eyes. Some of the passages that seemed awesome in the first pass might now surprise you with their ultimate cheesiness. Some parts that you threw in just to take up space might not actually be too bad.

Now you’re working on your revision. As many fine books on the topic of revision will tell you, the first thing you want to do is a quick read through. Treat your book as though you’ve just picked it up from your local bookstore or library, and read it from beginning to end, only making the most basic notes. Let’s call this your reader perspective.

Next you’re going to chart out your work. Cathy Yardley says to use a notecard for each scene. Alan Watt says to make a three part outline. Each gives specifics to look for. Deconstructing your work will allow you a nonlinear perspective, to see the pieces as the building blocks they are–which ones don’t match, which ones fit better in a different spot. You may end up collapsing two similar characters into one. You may end up rearranging key scenes to amp up the tension.

Now you’re ready to go through your work more slowly. This pass you’re going to be deleting, changing, updating, making edits that will effect other edits, and even writing new scenes. You may try writing in different tenses and with different points of view. You’re honing your perspective of your work as you go, like a sculptor uncovering the art, getting your work closer and closer to its best self.

Finally you edit for style and the finishing touches, the little changes. New writers sometimes mistakenly believe this is all there is to revision, but now that you’re an experienced writer, you’ve got a whole new perspective on revision.

I hope this helps. Feel free to ask questions. From beginning to end, perspective makes all the difference. So be patient with yourself, and know that this is a process.

aaa

 

Jobe

Posted in Darby

The Third Eye

“Darby almost always writes her stories in the third person,” she said.

I find that the third person point of view tends to be the safest.  Readers can, more often than not, relate more to the story.  This is, of course, a generalization.

My Strategy:

When I’m writing a novel or short story, I tend to have an omnipresent narrator who knows and sees all.  It is very old fashion, but I like it.  Most of my favorite novels are written this way.  There are two main reasons why I choose to write in this style.

  1. I can follow many different storylines and have multiple main characters. This can be somewhat more difficult to do in first person (unless one writes in the braid style) and is damn near impossible to do in second person. Talk about confusing.
  2. This style makes the narrator unbiased, making it easier for the reader to form his/her own opinions about certain characters and actions. I don’t necessarily want to tell my readers what they should be feeling. For example: “My dog ran off into the woods and was never seen again,” vs “Sally’s dog ran off into the woods and was never seen again.”

If Sally tells me that her dog ran away, I will most likely feel more sympathy towards her than I would if a narrator told me that her dog ran away.  Maybe I don’t like Sally.  The all seeing narrator allows me to choose whether or not I want to invest these feeling into this moment of the story.  It also allows the story to then shift to the point of view of the dog, whereas first person would be stuck on Sally. ‘I’m so glad to be away from that bitch, Sally,’ the dog thought.

The idea of a third person narrative is to give more freedom to both the writer and the reader.  This is why I prefer it.  Apologies for the short blog post, but I wasn’t really into the assigned topic this week.

Kisses from Hollywood!

-Darby

Posted in Taylor

You

You wring your hands, knowing what you’re about to say isn’t necessarily a popular opinion, but it needs to be said. You take a deep breath, then let it out. Here goes nothing. “Fine,” you squeak, “I’ll admit it. I love second-person point of view.”

😉

Sorry, as cheesy (and dramatic) as that might have been, I couldn’t help it.

I feel like second person POV gets looked over a lot. Sure, it’s not necessarily popular in novels, and I get that. It would be hard to sustain a reader’s attention using second person for that length of time, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable.

I’ve loved second person point of view ever since my Forms of Fiction class with Dr. John Vanderslice (hey, Dr. V!). It was the first story we were to turn in and I wound up writing in stream-of-consciousness about a girl’s uncertainty as she’s getting proposed to.

When I started this story, it was automatically in second person. I didn’t even have to think about it. It just made sense. Throughout the piece, the girl is talking to herself, so naturally, I used the “you” pronoun (at least, that’s the pronoun I use when I talk to myself).

But then, I did start to think about it. Okay, worry would be a more accurate description. I started wonder if second person was allowed. This was back before I realized there are no “rules” to writing. So, I did what any perfectionistic college student would do. I rewrote it.

Or, edited it, I guess.

So, I now had two copies of the story. One in second person and one in first person. Personally, I liked the second person story better, but I wanted to get it right.

After much debate, and second (and third) opinions, I decided to turn in the second person version. And I’m so glad I did.

I know that first person POV is intimate, but, to me, so is second person. There’s something so private about getting into someone’s personal thoughts (as my story did), or taking the reader on a firsthand journey.

Not only as a reader, do I feel a different connection, but as a writer I do as well. It’s easier for me to connect with my characters when they’re in second person POV. In first and third, I can connect, but there’s always a little of a disconnect; I don’t usually cry when my characters do, or when a character I love dies.

In second person, I become that character.

Maybe that’s why I love it. Or maybe it’s the simple reason that I don’t see it as often. Whatever it is, second person POV holds a special place in my writing heart.

Until next time,

Taylor

 

 

Posted in Colleen

My [Point-Blank] Perspective on Writing

I’ve re-typed this sentence about seven times now.

The number seven is significant in the Christian bible.

That second sentence may have irked you. It could turn you away, draw you in, or have little impact on whether you’ll decide to continue reading. And whatever I write next will do the same. It’s endless. Even when you choose to stop reading- it will continue.

I know what I want to say, but I can’t get it to read right. I want you to think what I’m thinking and feel what I’m feeling. But you can’t, because you’re not me. You’ve experienced this world differently. Ponder that.

I want to say that writers are pretty awesome people. But at the same time, I want to create a segway from boosting your ego into the topic of this post. But the flow just isn’t there. It isn’t me. My voice keeps changing. So I guess I should just keep writing like I’m trying to talk to you.

Ugh. It’s difficult to focus on this one thing. My thoughts jump all over. Maybe if I start writing about something else, the explanation will come along.

This sentence used to say “Let’s talk about the weather.” But I deleted it. I re-wrote this. Did you know that? You couldn’t have known, unless you read my first draft of this post.

But that’s impossible. Because I didn’t revise this. Would you believe that I didn’t revise this blog post? What? Do you think I have time to write AND re-write things for you? Pssh. Believe it or not, I did.

Goodness, I’m getting quite off-topic again. Writing this as ‘Colleen’ just isn’t jiving. I’m not good at writing as ‘me.’ I think I’ll write as thirty-five year old man.

What if I told you that I am 5″10′ tall? Would you believe me? It’s probably not important. And maybe you’d keep reading- in hopes that Colleen would get to her point soon so you could go back to perusing cat photos and .gifs of women cooking meals. Oh sorry, was that sexist? It wasn’t meant to be. Or, was it? Maybe she wrote it to get a reaction. Maybe she didn’t even realize it at the time and the idea that it could possibly cause a problem came later. But who is writing? None of you have met me, afterall. I’m just a figment of Colleen’s imagination. You don’t know what color my eyes are or how many children I have. Only Colleen knows that. And you won’t, unless she chooses to delve out the information.

Reguardless, readers interpret things in their own way. Writers interpret things in their own way. And I’m fairly certain that the only beings on this planet who can read are humans. And humans are pretty unique. So that allows a huge mix of reactions to what you write.

Alas! Colleen has made it to her point. I’m going to skedaddle.

Writers, you have one of the coolest gifts. You have this fantastic ability to not only CREATE a world with your stories, but you have power over your readers. Just look at what happened when John Green killed Augustus Waters. And who is still mourning over the mess J.K. Rowling made with that last book? There are so many people talking about what they think should have happened in those stories. There are so many people who have been inspired by what has been written.

It’s difficult to explain the impact of something such as writing. To explain something within the means of its’ own matter, is so intricate that it is redundant. FLASHBACK to second grade when your teacher asked you to define “gravity” and you stared at her, dumbstruck. “Uh. It’s what makes us not float into the sky? It makes us heavy?”

I have a lot of perspectives. I even have various perspectives on the word ‘perspective.’ The ability to reign in more than one of these is pretty awesome. And we do this with our characters, we do this with our plot, and we do this by writing what we don’t know. (See Darby’s Post for more on that). We do this by writing what we do know, what we want to learn more about, what we want to teach someone, etc. The list is infinite. (I can thank Stephen Chbosky for implanting that word in my mind).

I don’t even know where I’m going with this anymore. Maybe I should just delete it all. Then you’d never be able to read any of this. But would the absense affect you more than my jumble? Or are you so confused now that you’re filled with questions?

CRCH