Tag Archives: writer

There’s no rocket age

Let me tell you right now that I hate to classify books in age groups. I do believe that there should be books for young kids to learn about stories, but do not dare to tell me when you are thirteen your mind can’t comprehend good stories or that you do need certain genres to read fiction. Genres should be personality bound and not age bound. Also, I don’t believe we all only like one type of story. Certainly certain types appeal to us, but that’s where it ends. This is my pain with the Young Adult hype. I am not a hater of the genre. However, there are certain things I can’t wrap my mind around. The best novels are those that appeal to all ages.

I know the young adult counter arguments. I should say hype rather as that is what bothers me. That this generation wants guidance in an unsure world yadda yadda. I read about their arguments. This is where dimensions come into play. Are your stories so deep that only an ancient Greek philosopher can decipher it and be wrong too or are your stories so shallow that it makes the Twilight romances look good. That was a cheap shot and I’ll admit that. Certain aspects of the famous Hunger Games do not makes sense to me, but that is nitpicking and truth be told I did like the Hunger Games. What I’m getting at is a style of writing that appeals to everyone. This can be found in television too and the genre where this blossoms is animation. Take Up as an example of a film that appeals to all ages. Young children may not get the double meanings or some of the depth, but the character that is a child keeps them hooked. Another important thing to note is that  the two main characters are opposite and young and old can relate. If I take literature, the Little Prince is one of my favourite novels ever. It is a small book written by a French guy. On the surface it appeals to children, but from page one you can tell that teenagers won’t even comprehend its depth. This is not a novel for all ages, but I like the way it blurs the lines. Some people argue that that is exactly what young adult fiction has done. That is an absurd statement. Worst of all the hype began after someone had received a lot of success. Pray tell me how many authors do you think started a new young adult novel when someone received international acclaim.  I may be wrong, but unless the reason for this is an absolute love for the new authors owns story there is something seriously wrong.

This is not rocket science and I wish all authors were like this (in love with their own stories), but if a hint of greed enters an author’s mind it pollutes the story telling mind.

Pretty Bad

When done right this character will always attract people. We love to hate them and sometimes we love to sympathize with them. All stories need the effect of war. A civil war, a metaphor for inner conflict or more often than not just plain war. For this we need circumstances and usually of course an effective antagonist. All stories don’t need them, but aren’t they just so interesting to work with?

Antagonists. I can spend hours telling people why I like them. Sometimes I can’t pinpoint it, but it is the truth. What would Batman be had the Joker never existed. He’d be alright, but let’s agree he would be much less. This has to do with the mysterious part of some antagonists. We seldom go into their point of view, but they play an integral part in our stories. Sometimes they are just so well defined and this can be seen in their action and then they turn out to be a rounder character than the protagonist. There are a bunch of antagonist types and I won’t even dare to say I know all of them, but I will discuss the two main branches.

The delusional type who believe they are doing right and the other type the: evil embracer. There may be a balance between the two types as a character believes some of the things he has done can be wrong. What many authors often miss when working with arcs is the antagonist’s arc. This is not always possible as the antagonists isn’t usually the main character, but when working with an antagonist you can work with his moral decline or increase and this is a very interesting subject.

Most often we don’t see the deluded bad guy in his extreme state because that shifts the focus on the antagonists. It is thus understandable, but I adore the deluded antagonist, because some readers will have sympathy with the character. That said, most antagonists are deluded to morality in general. They do what is right for them. What is the difference then between the deluded bad guy and the one that embraces evil. Simple, the embracing part. It is all about belief in what is right and wrong. If the character admits what he is doing is wrong, but does it anyway you will know he isn’t deluded. The Joker for example blatantly admits he embraces chaos. This is not delusion. However, most of the times we have a mixture of delusion and admittance of evil doing. Then we can still tell by their intentions.

A big question that many antagonists will face and will give away whether they are believing in a lie is if the end justifies the means. An evil embracer doesn’t even bother with the question. That is a tell tale sign: The “I don’t care about justify, I do what profits me.” Some will argue that that in itself is a justification from their view. That justice doesn’t matter. It’s a dog eat dog world. The truth is you will know the balance and if your antagonist is truly evil. When it comes to video games and movies I remember the quotes of those antagonists. In videogames the antagonist is usually the focus and that is why I love them probably. IF you are familiar with Borderlands, two words… Handsome Jack. This guy actually was some hero, he did save lives and he hated the idea of murder, but then the disillusioned part kicked in. He got stabbed in the back by heroes who thought that he would turn evil with power. (they maybe had a point) This in turn turned him into a vengeance seeking maniac. He is a well defined antagonist and his wit is amusing at worst.

You will know you have a great antagonist if you off him. If you don’t, just imagine you ending him. If it makes you sad… well and if it makes you feel pretty bad… just know that the bad can be pretty sometimes and authors need to utilize this.

It is holiday, now the work begins

After three and a half weeks of exams I am glad to get back to my work. My real work, writing fiction. This holiday I have to finish my first draft of my novel, maybe today… also I need to find an editor.

After reading and talking with people, I like the idea of self publishing. For me it is all about reach, and uhh of course royalties, but let’s go with reach. In South Africa there are few international publications if you are not great. So a publisher may like my work or not, but if the people do not and I still get published I am stuck in my country and my country is not big on reading, compared to other nations of course. Some blame the awesome weather. Or love of sports or both. This may be a reason, but back to what I was saying. A little more than a year ago, I was writing an essay. This essay has turned into 73000 words through my grade 11 year. A very important year. I managed to write on weekends and holidays, but the more I wrote the more I got addicted to it. I realized something. I realized that writing made me feel good and without it I felt worse than I had before I started writing. I can never go back to not writing. Sure, I take breaks, but the old mind works differently. Today, I wrote down eight ideas I know will turn into novels one day, while I was at the grocer. This is not normal. My cellphone’s note application is littered with random sentences and ideas. I like it that way.

Those of you who have visited my blog, know I don’t plot, but I do draw beginnings, sometimes literally- hooray for stick men- and also endings. That is what I do. Now that my break has ended I have a lot of work to do. However, with the amount of joy I receive from editing and writing I don’t know if work is the right word, but it probably is. So, wherever you find yourself, winter or summer during this December or work or holiday go ahead and write if you have time. I know I will.

Transition to Fiction

We all like the idea of change especially if it is for the better, yet our minds create patterns that make us very comfortable. Take work and school for example versus holidays. I love holidays, but everything comes to pass and I need to return to school. The thing is I like school too. Then what is the problem when I need to return and more importantly what has this to do with writing?

The problem is we humans love to get into a rhythm. We don’t mind change but to change has this strange effect on our minds. This applies to writing as well. If I haven’t written in a while then the simple act of placing myself in front of my laptop seem like a drag. I feel like I sometimes let my characters down, but when my fingers start hitting those keys and I gain rhythm again in my writing it does boost my confidence. I get lost in my worlds then everything is fine, until I need to do some things in the real world.

Now, a lot of authors can and will handle this dilemma by simply organizing their time and also by incorporating writing as part of a daily schedule. This is a good idea. Why create a transition when you may as well just be a better manager of time? A manager of the most valuable commodity. Some will argue that they can’t and that they just don’t work like that. I’m one of them. I can write as long as I have something on my mind. Don’t get me wrong, I am not one those people that wait for muse, but I need a readiness. This can only happen for me if I have thought about my next chapter before even thinking of when I am going to write. It may not be a good idea to write if you aren’t feeling inspired unless that writing in itself inspires you. It has worked for me before when I write a bunch of nonsense and somehow that leads to another pattern of thought.

So even as this may pose a small problem or a feeling like blasé . Suck it up and push on. If you are good at organizing your time and satisfied to let your own writing inspire you then do it. If you need inspiration then seek it. When this is done give people a postcard from your land of fiction.

A Writer’s Ground

I adore a certain drink that many other authors also love. We all have our writing habits. I listen to music, drink a ton of my special drink, and think the whole day about my characters. We have our ground and this poem explains.

A Writer’s Ground

Words on paper
pouring forth like
streams of water in the ground

There is nothing so close to a mind as a writer and his
daily grind, but
ground, yes
and escape will come

As he sits and stands with machine in hand…
the hand and the mind and the tongue…
lapping up inspiration as it comes.

Virtually my greatest tool

Have you ever heard a famous quote and shrugged or have you ever seen a scene in a film and said that it was okay. (while your friends where fangirling and fanboying) I have too. Not all things do impress us, but when they do they can change a writer’s life for the better. I am going to discuss something that really got me into writing.

Video games. Yeah, that… Now before you close this post and write me of for just expressing my love for games, hear me out. Some of us are fortunate enough to be weak. Cowboys don’t cry, but cowboys don’t write. Am I saying that authors are criers? No, but I needed something to make me feel. I needed games. I needed to know how art can make people emotional before I attempted the same. Now, if you aren’t a gamer… which of course you guys probably aren’t, I am going to talk a lot about this love of mine.

I play all kinds of games. I don’t play every game, but the ones I know have a great story. Why? As I have mentioned before writers need a skill that actors have. We needs to know our characters. Video games allow this at a click of a button. You make choices in many games… many of which have moral consequences. You lose characters that are close to you. It has the ability to quickly turn you into someone that can relate and yes that is an important skill. This is why I am also a film lover. Not that novels can’t do the same. I am a novelist after all, but the stimulation broke my cowboy. I have never cried for fiction before and I confess to you that it took a game to change me. Maybe you are better than me, but like music it has become a great tool I use.

The truth is that the script writers for video games don’t always get the recognition they deserve. The Last of Us, Bioshock, Telltale’s Walking Dead, Dishonored. I have tons of respect for the people that wrote games like these. Without them my novel would not even be a dream. I know now how important inspiration is and that you can seek it. Now, I have this media as well. I needed a heart so I found a virtual one.

LastOfUsStill1

Shadow

Teachers are always oh so smart. They always spoil stories for me when we analyze novels. They point to every bit of foreshadowing with wisdom they seem to be born with. (yeah right)

Shadow

Sitting in the sun it’s easy
to see the
shadow ahead.
Shed some light… and the
shadow moves and doubles. Shed too much and
it dissipates

Guiding the man that chases the
shadow…
Upholding the truth of the lie.
The treasure seekers… can smell it and others
can only say, Oh the
Shadow and yes yes it moves and goes like
this
as if they knew before the end.

Then the man in the light shifts the figure
as they
figure and figure and figure.

Relationships (part 1)

I introduced my ideas about characters before and I will continue to do so. I shift my focus onto something arguably as important and often stereotypical: relationships.

Where do you begin? Friends, acquaintances, romantic interests, enemies and family bonds like brothers and sisters, fathers and sons etc. This is a simple summary I quickly came up with. And let us not forget a relationship with authority.

Since relationships are one of the few things that writers need to keep as normal as possible, (unless your story is about a weird ones) certain things may look stereotypical, but aren’t. The way you treat them can lead to those clichés. Shall we explore a bit… scratch the surface? I begin with family bonds. Let us not remind ourselves that teenagers act out. (as an eye witness… I agree) They don’t always see eye to eye with their parents. The minority are wild though, so depicting a parent-teen relationship where the readers eyes will go rolling is a great possibility. Let me take a step back and focus on parent-child relationship. (doesn’t matter what age) Conflict will always arise. Be it rebellion, laziness and over protection. I am a fan of parent-child relationships. Few relationships effect other characters in a way that may change their worldview as much as this.

Moving on. Romance. I won’t try it yet as my mind is still hurting from all the fanatics of novels I haven’t read. I am not saying I won’t ever try this. I am still figuring out how I can utilize my creativity in this. They do exist in my novel, but play a very minor part. When done right you can make certain people cry. (may I mention a gender and age or will that be discriminate?) If you are really good you can make any reader emotional. Okay, most.

Friends. Who doesn’t want friends. Even I, as asocial as I am, want friends. So do characters. The strength of the bonds is up to the writer and his tales. Even groups of friends will work. Three Musketeers, anyone? Best friends also exist believe it or not and can be used efficiently. Sure, there are things we have seen before, but I won’t discard any of my summaries. What you make with it is up to you.

Enemies. This can vary from mere nemeses to literal enemies to opponents. It can also refer to the relationship between protagonist and antagonist. Without this my first novel would fall apart. To what lengths do they go to make each other angry or to beat each other?

Acquaintances can go hand in hand with the authoritative relationship I mentioned, but I will set them apart in my future discussions. Acquaintances: think about coworkers complaining about the boss who is clearly an authority figure. Your protagonist won’t dare to speak to a voice of authority as to his office buddies. No way. Unless he wants to quit his work in a unique way. I can see a lot of humour in these types of relationships.

Certain characters fall apart without these relationships and understandably so as they are great characterization tools. Please, comment on what you like to use and share your thoughts. I will go in depth when I have time and explore them in more detail.

A writer’s faith

A question any writer with faith faces. Will they use it in their writing? Does it impact them? It impacts me and although my novel is not about my faith (horror drama)… some of my poems are. In a world like today, I, as a Christian don’t expect love. We are not political correct. We don’t tolerate certain things. Atheists who claim to tolerate everything usually hate Christians… especially the ones that read that Bible and actually believe it. They are okay with mild Christians. So, sorry to the unbelievers, this post isn’t for you.

The Red Carpet

The limelight makes her shine so bright
everyone smiles. Her heels sink into the carpet
red
A true character on and off the set.
So down to earth
Ain’t we all?

She imitates those whom she is not.
Dark characters.
She is strong and a pillar so liberal. Waving the ironic flag.
A promise that it won’t end again in a watery way.
The last wave will be fire. Glamour dies.

I got the part, I got the part.
Alas, everyone suffers a fatal slip.
Down to earth?
Ain’t we all?
Depart. Depart.
She never knew Him

The plates we know

For those of you who aren’t inclined to Google a lot and those of you who didn’t Google something as obvious as this. This title won’t make sense.

I’ll break it down. I am talking about clichés. It is a reference to the French origin now long forgotten. You can also call it a stereotype, but this you ought to know. We hate clichés. Why do we hate clichés? Because we have seen them before, that’s why.

Now this plate that has been used before is not bad, automatically. It is bad because someone else has done it before and we have seen it before. There was a time however when certain plot ideas were considered revolutionary and they are just… okay for us. We have seen them before. So I call them the familiar plates.

Since the word stereotype and cliché have a similar origin I will discuss it as well. Some of our characters we have seen in other places or at least a large part of them. Did you make that man the genius or that guy the thief? Or that guy the thug? Stereotypes usually have a truth to them and so do old clichés. With the world going on and millions of writers out there, it makes you wonder if someone isn’t taking your idea as you are reading this blog. I am just kidding. Don’t wonder. It happens.

Now quit your worrying about an original idea and think of the plates that worked. They were brilliant once and all you need to do is to show them in a different light. Don’t discard all clichés. Rather hide them among your ideas. Put two old ideas together and you have a new one. It doesn’t matter how much we hate these old plates, for if we strip them from the press, guess what will happen. Fiction will collapse into chaotic madness.

Don’t believe me? Take away the stranger in town, take away an abusive parent, take all orphans away, take dying mentors away, take certain relationships away, delete all romance, serial killers, certain plot twists and a hero that sacrifices himself for others.

Some of them are clichés you’d hate to see go. Not all, but some. For me, each one houses a place in modern literature as long as each author can make it his own. Maybe it’s nostalgia, but these are the plates we know.