Writing for Yourself

Sometimes people act as if writers must automatically want to publish their work, just because that person’s a writer. But to be entirely honest, I didn’t always want to publish my work and get paid for it. It started out as something personal, yet society seems to think writers MUST get published in order to validate their desire to make their art.

I reject the notion that all writers have to publish their work.

The truth is, it’s okay if you want to write just for yourself. In fact, some published writers already write for themselves (myself included), and simply publish the work they happen to put out. The truth is, there is a difference between writing a product and writing for yourself. The best books happen to be stories that the author wrote because that’s the story they wanted to tell. J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter because it’s the story she wanted to write, not because she thought it would be a bestseller.

The point I’m trying to make is, write what you want to write, and don’t worry if it gets published. You can always worry about that later. And at the end of the day, if your work doesn’t become a bestseller, at least you enjoyed writing it!

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

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Finding Time to Write

Sometimes as writers, we struggle to find time to write. Everyone, unless they’re a retired old fart who doesn’t get out of the house, has a social life and a job and other things that get in the way. The bottom line is, we all have to deal with struggles that come hand in hand with being a writer. One of the biggest struggles, however, is finding the time we need to sit down and write that dang book.

But the dirty little secret is, it’s actually not that hard to do.

If you’re stuck in a rut and you’re having trouble writing whatever project you’re working on, then you need to evaluate what is going on in your life. For years, I’ve been trying to publish a second book, and I’m just now learning to focus onto how to get my words down when I’m struggling. Some of that involves writing detailed outlines, which has nothing to do with finding time to write, but one thing that does relate to it is the idea that you need to schedule your writing time.

Recently, I went to Walmart and bought a weekly planner. That allows me to plan every single day and write down tasks I need to fulfill during the day in question. This means that I can set in stone every day’s tasks and write during my writing time and carry out other tasks that have to be done that day. In the grand scheme of things, it’s taught me how important it is to focus and be consistent. Truth be told, you don’t need a weekly planner if you can learn to focus on when to write without one, but it certainly does help. It’s the best tool I’ve invested in.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

World Building

In novel writing, research is key. You have to know what you are writing about before you go about writing the subject in question. But in fantasy and other genres with made up settings, world building takes the place of research, and it is the author’s job to create a world that only exists in the mind.

In order to do that properly, you have to look at things that exist in the real world and ask yourself how that can relate to a fictional one. In the real world, you have cars and other motorized vehicles, but how do people get around in a fantasy world?

Also, if you’re writing fantasy, what does the politics or the religion of people look like? Is your government a monarchy with a democratic twist? Is your religion a polytheistic version of Christianity? Also, what do the world cultures look like? In my novel, Kingslayer, I based a lot of my culture on Europe (not exclusive to England), plus I added a few hundred years so the characters could carry guns and ride airships and trains.

One of my all time favorite examples to world building is Harry Potter. In the magical world, there is a real world equivalent to pretty much everything. For sports, you have Quidditch and the Tri-wizard Tournament; for school, of course, the students focus on the magical arts as opposed to math and grammar, and instead of your ACT’s you have your OWL’s and NEWT’s; and you even have the media with The Daily Prophet.

I haven’t even touched on the Chocolate Frog Cards, so needless to say, HP is chock full of examples of world building. These are just a few ways a writer can make their world truly unique. And in fact, if you are setting your story in a secondary world, there are even more things you can do that are ripe for the picking.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

A Few Things I Learned From Playwriting and Screenwriting

First of all, I know I said this post would come out yesterday, but life happened. But now that that’s out of the way, I want to discuss some things I’ve learned this semester in my creative writing program, specifically in a pair of playwriting and screenwriting classes. In one of my previous blogs, I said that my CW program hadn’t helped me as a fiction writer, and this was perfectly true, but I’d like to amend that thought and say it was mostly the fiction classes that hadn’t helped. Truth be told, if you want to be a better fiction writer, learning to write scripts is the way to go.

The reason for this is because screenwriting and playwriting dive far deeper into how stories are told. There is terminology at use in both fields (which are basically two sides of the same coin) that help the writer help to structure their character’s motivations. They are called superobjectives. These are basically what the characters are after, and every single character in your novel should have one. The bottom line is, what is their goal? In Star Wars, you can even argue that Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker have opposite superobjectives. Darth Vader wants to turn his son to the Dark Side, while Luke wants to bring his father back to the Light. In a nutshell, what does your character want?

Something else I learned about is the MDQ: the “major dramatic question.” As my professor said, it is the major question (usually asked 10% through the story) that the story depends on to be driven forward. To go back to my Star Wars example, the MDQ could be “Will Luke turn his father from the Dark Side?” It is a question that can be asked in questions beginning in how, what, when where, why, who, and so on. But according to what my prof has said, it is best asked with a “will” question.

The bottom line is that, while fiction writers will not benefit much from a CW program if they’re focused on fiction, there are other types of classes out there that will teach writers the structure of a story in far more detail. That means that classes such as playwriting and screenwriting can actually make you a better writer of fiction, depending on which university you’re going to, of course.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Something I’ve Learned In College

It’s time for a confession. I’m not a fan of creative writing programs in college, unless you’re just looking for a piece of paper to help you make some extra green. The truth is, I haven’t exactly kept any of this a secret while I’ve been using this blog. However, I’ve discovered something useful when it comes to playwriting and screenwriting classes.

They help me outline fiction.

Some may not think this is possible but it is. Currently, I’m taking a playwriting class, and my professor has provided his students with an outline of how the play works and all that jazz. There are three parts to a play (a beginning, middle, and end), and between each part there is some kind of transition between them. This has helped me transition my stories from brief idea that can be summed up on three pages, to a 30-page outline using the beginning-middle-end format for each scene, to a script format to get all the dialogue down with brief description ideas, to a fully-written novel.

I think the evolution between brief idea to full novel speaks for itself. Needless to say, I’m incorporating this into my process, and am attempting to use it to plan a sequel for Kingslayer as well as planning an anthology for shorter fantasy fiction. This plan seems to be working out pretty well so far.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Update: Summer 2017

I know I haven’t been making my regular posts, but I assure you I’m not chillin’ with Tolkien, Poe, Twain, and other dead writers. I have, on the other hand, been very busy. I’ve been taking a senior-level playwriting class, after all. And before that, I was visiting my brother and his girlfriend out in the boonies of Angleton, Texas.

Several projects in a row have fallen apart–including the epistolary novel I spoke about on Twitter–but I did manage to get something else done. I managed to fully draft a piece of flash fiction, which will be published as bonus content in the back of Kingslayer with a simple update to my files (perks of self-publishing). This story actually stems from the failed prequel for my novel that never got finished, but I digress. I’m also going to be publishing an appendix in the back of the book to further explain some of the magical items in my created universe.

Something else I’ve been working on is a new cover for Kingslayer. The current one just isn’t working or getting the book noticed, so I figured a change is in order. It’ll be up soon.

Right now, novels just aren’t working for me. I’m starting to think that short fiction and flash fiction are where I need to focus my attention, until I can readjust my attention to novels again. That’s why I’m considering doing a collection of fantasy flash fiction (some of which will be from the world of Kingslayer, while others will be from entirely new worlds).

All in all, I wanted to update everyone on what I am doing so they can get a bigger picture for why I’ve been absent from the blog scene.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Dialogue

Everyone has a unique voice, whether you be from Boston in the U.S. or Ireland in the U.K., but how can a writer use this fact to make dialogue that is unique from character to character? Well, there are lots of components to this, which will inevitably have to be covered in future posts,  but at its most basic level, dialogue stems from how people talk.

If you want to write realistic dialogue, it is important to note that there are three major components to speech: phenology, morphology, and syntax. Phenology is basically how people pronounce certain words, morphology is the choice of one word over another that basically means the same thing, and syntax is all about overall word choice.

For example, if someone says “worsher” as opposed to “washer,” you’ll know this is an example of phenology where they’re talking about a washing machine. Different people pronounce these words differently depending on their geography. Morphology works similarly in that you’ll say something different depending on where you live, except you’ll use a different word as opposed to the same word that’s pronounced differently. Fireflies are a good example of this. Where I live in the south, firefly is the accepted word, but in other places firebugs or lightning bugs are just as acceptable. Syntax is a little more complex, but it’s self-explanatory, so I won’t go any further on that.

The point is, we’re all going to talk differently, and it’s your job as a writer to convey that in how your characters talk. Geography is very important in the real world, because different kinds of people settle in different places, and therefore different accents and even dialects develop. If you want to create realistic dialogue, even in fantasy, these are all things to keep in mind.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017