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Monday, February 29, 2016

How to do Research for Your Novel

Kerstin said: Hi, I recently stumbled over your blog when I was researching dieselpunk for our online rpg and not only did it answer my question, it also revived my buried passion for writing. Well done! 

But that also revived the old problem I always had when I sat down to put pen to paper: 

How do you do research for your story? 

I don't mean mere facts - we all know how to google. I'm talking of the little details in the setting and interactions of the characters that make the world you create "real."

. . . Say I want to write a sci-fi story that plays on a space station. The closest real world example could be an oil-platform, but to the average writer it's as exotic and unapproachable as the space-station itself. If you want to write something in a milieu that has nothing to do with your own life, how do you research that, especially when you're not an established author that can ask for interviews or an "externship"? 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Validating the Reader's Concerns

Sometimes in your writing, you might have a point in your plot or even just a tiny beat in your scene, where something odd happens. Maybe it has the potential to ruin your reader's suspension of disbelief. Or it feels too coincidental. Or maybe a little contrived. Or it's redundant.

Whenever this happens, you'll want to take a second look at it. See if you can make it less odd, more natural, more believable, more organic, or fresh. But sometimes in some cases, that point or beat needs to be there, and it needs to be right there. And you can almost hear your reader's disbelief, "Yeah right!" or "Of course, another monster--give me something new," or "How convenient," as you are writing it. Or maybe you're dealing with something vague, and it's obviously, noticeably, very big and vague. How do you pull that off?

Here is one way: Validating the reader's concerns.

Monday, February 15, 2016

When to Stop Being a Beginner

Over the last year or so, I've done a few posts on breaking writing rules, and how and when to break them right. I want to emphasize that these writing rules are very important for beginners, and if not a complete beginner, someone who hasn't mastered the writing technique yet. But there is a point where you need to realize,

you aren't a beginner anymore. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Resurrected Vlog (She LIVES!!)

Hello everyone! In case you missed the memo, I restarted my vlog and audio writing tips--and I even got a new camera and learned how to make them not so boring! Yay! I'm hoping to update them once or twice a month, and I would really appreciate it if you would subscribe to me on Youtube (you don't need a Youtube account, just a gmail address). These are perfect for those who enjoy my writing tips, but would rather watch or listen to them instead of read them. (Or for anyone who wonders what I sound like in the real world, or anyone who missed my earlier writing tips and would like to get them.)

Here are two of my new videos! (If you are an email subscriber, sorry, but videos don't work in the emails. :( You can go to my Youtube page or read this post on my webpage. Cheers.)

And here is my audio page on SoundCloud. For those who don't know, SoundCloud is like a Youtube for audio. You can download their free app and listen to someone (me) tell you cool writing tips, or you can listen to someone (me) tell you interesting writing tips. Again, someone (it's me) would love any follows or subscriptions.

I will not be posting each new video or audio as its own blog post on here, but I will be mentioning when I have a new one up on my social media outlets: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Google+

I may or may not include vlogs on nonwriting things--haven't decided yet, but not all my posts on here are tips so . . .

Thank you guys for being awesome!

Next week, be ready to learn about moving from being a beginning writer to a more advanced one, and in the future, I'll be putting a post all about profanity and writing up.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The REAL Key to Brainstorming: Restrictions

If you're like me, you probably learned how to brainstorm in a classroom. Some teacher gave you some methods, like this mind map or just told you to write down everything that came to mind. Maybe you connected them with lines. But for a lot of people, like me, it just wasn't really that effective. Sure, I might get a great idea eventually, but the truth is, there are more efficient ways to get better results, faster.

Here is why I wish my teachers didn't tell me I could brainstorm anything.

You brainstorm better with restrictions.

I know it sounds like the exact opposite of what should work . . . because it is. But it works, and it works better.

The problem with the "anything can go" approach is that nothing really ends up going. In this post, I'll explain why restrictions are so important and effective in brainstorming quality work, and give you some restrictions to get you brainstorming a fantastic character in minutes, as an example.