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Monday, March 30, 2015

How to Write What's Not Written (Subtext)


Subtext: *tries to be invisible*


I've been seeing a number of stories lately that are lacking in subtext. And honestly, it's no surprise. writing subtext (or, I guess not writing it) is flipping difficult to 1) understand 2) do. I had read about writing subtext like over two years ago, and only now do I feel like I'm starting to understand it and have conscious control over it. So, I'm going to attempt to try to explain how to do it.

What is Subtext?


The best definition of subtext, in my opinion, is this: subtext is what's not said; it is what is implied. 

Remember my humor post from a few weeks back? I talked about how Lemony Snicket had a specific technique he employed for some of his humor. He states the obvious. And then strongly implies the un-obvious. 

So subtext is what is implied. Look at this example of it that I just made up:
Robert, not bothering to raise his hand, spouted out an inappropriate joke.
"Robert, I don't want to hear that kind of language in my class," Mr. Henderson said, but the ends of his lips twitched up. "That's very offensive." He failed to suppress a full-blown grin. 
Here, we can tell that the teacher found whatever Robert said funny, but neither he nor the narrator comes out and tells the reader that. Instead it's implied by his body language and behavior--what he doesn't say. What Mr. Henderson actually says to Robert is at odds with how Mr. Henderson acts.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Real Reason We Shouldn't Hide Our Talents


I had a realization last year that totally changed my perspective. Ready for it?

You always do more good in the world by sharing your talents.

Do you know why? Because the people who don't like your talents, the people who disagree with you, who don't think you're very good at what you do, who think your talent is stupid--they're just going to shrug their shoulders, maybe say a few things about it, and then be on their way.

But the people you do touch with your talent, the people you connect with, will be blessed because of you. You might inspire them to do something more, to be a better person. If nothing else, you've given them a moment of happiness and awe and enjoyment. You've made their life better, if only for a second, by sharing your talent.

Monday, March 16, 2015

An Unsolicited Shoutout: James Duckett


Born helpless, nude and unable to provide for himself, James Duckett eventually overcame these handicaps to become a writer, a geek, and a lover of books.



Hey everyone! Once in a while I like to give a shoutout to some of my close friends in the writing world, and today I'm doing a special post on James Duckett. Why? Because he recently published his first book. Everybody celebrate! So, if you need an excuse to do something fun or a reason to make today spectacular, just remember, James Duckett has his first book out and you need to do something cool in his behalf.

His book, Pushing the Wall, is a memoir that follows the story of his first marathon:




What kind of idiot would run a marathon without training for it first? Me.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Birthday Giveaway!!! Harry Potter, Sherlock, The Hobbit, Trigun, FMA

(This giveaway is now closed)

Fun fact: the more birthdays you have, the longer you live.

Today is my birthday! Yay!! I'm older than I've ever been!

To celebrate, I'm doing a pick-your-prize giveaway, where the winner gets to pick an item from one of my favorite stories. These are a few of my favorite things: Harry Potter, Sherlock, The Hobbit (but more than that, Lord of the Rings), Trigun, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. I tried to find a cool Hunger Games thing to giveaway, but had no luck.

Here's what the winner gets to pick from:


  • Harry Potter Time Turner Necklace (Need a few extra minutes? No problem!)
  • Trigun Decal (Meyaaaw)
  • A key to 221b Baker Street--who wouldn't want that ;) --key chain, so you can entertain Sherlock when he's bored.
  • (followers' favorite) Fullmetal Alchemist Pocket Watch (become a dog of the military)
  • The Ring from The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings (Renders you invisible. Side effects include fleeing for you life from Ring-wraiths)
  • A Dark Mark temporary tattoo (Become a Death Eater . . . temporarily)
  • One of my favorite writing resources The Emotion Thesaurus. Learn how every mood is expressed physically, internally, mentally, and how it is suppressed, then learn how to write it! (This is an ebook copy, no a physical copy.) (I use this book almost every week.)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Three Tweaks that Keep Details Interesting




Over the last six months or so, I've learned a few new things about writing scenes. Today, specifically I'm going to share some techniques that can tweak your scene here and there to make it more interesting and to keep it from going stale. They are, expand, deepen, and create motion.

As some of you know, I work for David Farland, so his writing tips and lessons obviously have an impact on me, which is why I make sure to mention him right there on the right-hand column of my blog. Well, one of his writing tips led me to come up with the contents of today's post. This is just like a little hypothesis of mine that has developed over the last few months.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Picking the RIGHT Details



If you've been writing very long, you'll know the importance of mentioning details in your writing. Appealing to the senses and attention to detail is what will ground your reader and bring your story to life. Details often make it so that your reader experiences your story, instead of just reading about it.

So as writers, we might want to mention what a character is wearing, the color of her hair, the smell of a river, or the texture of a tent. Usually we want to tag our character's with a particular description. If you read Harry Potter, you'll know the Minister of Magic, Fudge, always has a bowler hat, that Dumbledore has twinkling eyes and half-moon spectacles, that Professor Trelawney wears shawls and smells like sherry. J.K. Rowling mentions the same details for these character regularly to tag them (or in a future post, I'll refer to them as "anchors"). It helps us remember who the characters are and reminds us of their demeanor.

But sometimes as writers we don't pick meaningful details. We just pick something. We might say that "the man wore a white shirt." Okay. But that's so generic, we might as well not even mention it. It's so generic, that the reader is going to forget it almost immediately after reading it. It's not even characteristically interesting enough to be a tag. So it won't even help us remember the character.