Understanding Perspective

The easiest mistake to make in writing is to muddle your character’s perspective.

It happens all the time, and it usually isn’t intentional. The problem is, when this happens, your readers are left scratching their heads and wondering what happened to the MC’s worldview.

First off, I want to make something clear.

If your MC (aka main character, by the way) doesn’t have a perspective on life, then he/she is very similar to a piece of cardboard that can walk around and make intelligible noises.

No one wants to read about a boring piece of cardboard, do they?

Well, some people might, but that’s beside the point.

The point, my friends, is that it’s very, very, VERY important that you understand your character’s perspective. And it is also important that you understand how to understand your MC’s perspective.

If you’ve never really thought about it, you may come up with something like this…

For example: Timothy (MC) believes that books are evil. He hates propaganda and free speech. He believes in oppressing opinions and that children should not learn how to read.

Now, reading over this quickly sounds like you have a solid understanding of Timmy’s perspective. (And it’s an awful perspective on life, if you ask me…)

But let’s just say you sat down to write and you began to write about Timmy’s life and his daily conversations with people.

You may run into a few speed bumps pretty quickly.

Just writing down what a character believes isn’t the same as understanding. You may write down that they believe eating oatmeal every day will vastly improve life on earth… And then you will have them walking around, spouting off this information without a clue as to why they are doing it.

Why?

The all-important question.

You probably were expecting that understanding perspective required a complicated process… It’s not complicated. All you have to do is ask yourself why do they believe what they believe? Why do they hold that opinion/point of view?

To be honest, “why” can turn into a whole discussion. You will never reach one conclusion. However, every start to understanding something requires you to climb into the bottomless well of “why”…

Instead of just being there to make your life difficult and to make you feel annoyed at the amount of thinking you have to do, the “why” question will smooth your writing path as you go along. You’re going to have to answer it some time, and getting it done at the beginning will take away a ton of rewriting you would’ve had to do.

For example.: Timothy believes all books are evil because…

Honestly, I can’t give a reason for that because that has no reason. It is irrational thinking.

You get the point.

And you just got a little pep talk about understanding perspective.

To help you along, here are a few steps you can take to better understand your character’s perspective.

  1. Make a list of opinions/beliefs that define your character
  2. Dig into the back story of your character and examine their motives
  3. Ask the “why” question and fill in the because blank
  4. Take your character’s perspective and read it (and his/her’s reasons for believing it) aloud to a friend. Ask if they could understand the reasons. (Understanding is different from agreeing with.)
  5. Write a dialogue between two characters using that perspective. Does it make sense? Does it seem to come from the character himself? Could you see this in the real world as a perspective someone might actually have?

Perspectives change. That’s what makes a character arc so special.

This is another reason why understanding perspective is so important. You can’t make a perspective change if you didn’t really know what it was in the first place.

Yes, you may know that Timmy thinks books are evil, but you can’t make that belief change.

Why not?

Because you won’t be able to provide relevent reasons why his perspective should change in the first place. At least from his point of view.

So yeah.

Understanding perspective is very important. And it helps a ton with planning character arcs.

I hope this helped, and good luck with your character perspectives!

-Julia, H

 

 

Writing Realistic Dialogue

One of the most important things in your book is the dialogue, the exchange between characters. If you mess this up, you’ll endanger your whole entire plot. You can have an awesome storyline, but if the dialogue stinks… Sorry, but that book just got tossed down the toilet.

(books don’t fit down toilets?)

I struggle with dialogue, everyone struggles with dialogue. So don’t think you’re a strange anomaly that no one has ever seen before. Don’t feel bad about yourself. The only way you’re going to make this work is if you’re confident about your writing.

First, before I give you a few things you can use as guidelines, I need to make sure you understand your characters. Each character has a specific way of speaking; one of them might have an accent, another might enjoy sounding like a puffed up professor by saying “indubitably” five times in a row, and the other might talk like a hippie.

Or whatever.

It doesn’t matter what type of character you have, you just need to understand how that character would sound if he/she spoke to you in real life. If you can’t get that down, your dialogue will suffer.

So, assuming that you actually followed through with this WONDERFUL advice instead of just reading it, nodding your head, and saying, “Oh, yeah, totally gonna do that,”, let’s move on to things you get to check off.

Yay!

 

Here you go:

  1. Does each snippet of dialogue have a simple distinct character/flair about it? You need to make sure that your dialogue has elements that real human conversation contains. If you’re adding complicated innuendos and weird twists of words that are really hard to read, then drop it. It’s supposed to be SIMPLE. If you can’t ever imagine someone saying that, then it’s not going to work.
  2. Is your dialogue smooth when read aloud? This is a foolproof test for dialogue. After you’ve written your conversation with each characters’ style, read it aloud. Read it in your bathroom, your closet, to your cat, it doesn’t matter. You need to hear what it sounds like. If it flows smoothly and if it sounds like something you could hear in the mall then GOOD JOB!! YAY!! YOU GET A GOLD MEDAL!! WELL DONE!! HURRAY! If it’s not… *awkward silence*
  3. Did you eliminate stiff and unrealistic phrases? Now don’t read this the wrong way. If you’re writing a mid-seventeenth century novel, then yes, your dialogue is going to sound way different. But this doesn’t mean you can’t still make it sound realistic. People were still people back then, and they stuttered and used filler words and messed up. Not EVERYONE uttered beautifully scripted speeches and unknown vocabulary words in their conversations.
  4. Did you avoid revealing unrealistic facts? Face it, nobody goes up to their date and says, “Oh yes, my dear, I do remember when we first met: we sat by the river and watched the water, while your little sister played by the stream. Then we ate hot dogs and you mother said ‘Don’t choke and die!’ and then I…” You get the picture. You don’t want to give the WHOLE ENTIRE BACKSTORY in one piece of conversation. People don’t do that in real life, and it’s just bad writing. Yes, you can reveal information, but don’t give up a scene in conversation if it’s something you can write that will emotionally connect your audiences.
  5. Try mouthing along when you write. This is just a little free tip. Sometimes what helps me is just mouthing along when I write it. This usually results in more straightforward and human conversations. I don’t know, it might work for you, it might not. I encourage you to try it out!

Okay, that’s about it, just 5 little checkmarks you can make after you write dialogue. Believe me, do not underestimate your dialogue. The impact conversation has on a book is enormous. Imagine what would happen to our world if our conversations were eliminated or incoherent. Dialogue and every day conversations make our lives full of color and diversity. Add that to your book, and you might just capture a bit of our world into your pages.

-Julia H.

 

To Kill A Mockingbird, Review

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, was placed under my have-to-read list for this year. At first, I tried reading it so I would be ahead before the middle of the school semester.

Unfortunately, when you have too much homework, reading books kinda gets ruined.

I tried again when I actually had time to read the book.

I can honestly say that this novel is top five in my list of favorites. There is no doubt that To Kill A Mockingbird deserved the Pulitzer Prize.

The descriptions are subtle, the characters unique, and the plot delightfully twisted.

However, a lot of people are thrown off by the beginning of the story. Harper Lee introduced her novel by her characters. The first several chapters are devoted to describing the main character’s way of life and the setting in which she is living. Stories and details of the character’s adventures and hopes in life are vividly encountered and explored.

(All these details may seem bit random to the reader, but as you keep reading deeper into the novel, everything adds up.)

All throughout this book, the Southern way of life, their views, and their traditions are carefully sown into the fictional lives that we’re reading about. It is expertly done, and I think that’s what I loved so much about this book. You really get a picture of a small Southern town, where prejudice and racism are still part of peoples’ lives.

Not only did she write an interesting story and captivating characters, Harper Lee delves deep into human emotions and the way people respond to certain situations. Moral dilemmas and political conflicts are woven throughout the story in a way that makes it hard to put the book down.

On top of all this, the writing is superb. Everything has a distinct style, and the dialogue is completely believable. This is one of those books where you feel like you’re in the town, you’re speaking to the characters, you’re watching the scene happen.

To Kill a Mockingbird is definitely a novel that every reader should look into. I can’t recommend this book enough.

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-Julia H.

Hope you enjoyed this review! Comment below and share it with your friends if you liked what you saw. 

 

 

 

 

 

Rebooting in 5 simple Steps

So let’s just assume you’ve finished your first draft. Or first chapter. Or first word.

Doesn’t matter what it is. If you have reached a goal that you set for yourself, you probably have no idea how to reboot your inspiration and reload all that data that somehow is hiding in your brain.

Well. You are not alone.

(I think. Pretty sure.)

And since you are NOT alone, and since if you’ve kept reading this so far, you’re probably searching for a way to fix this.

1. Throw a party. Not joking whatsoever. You need to make sure your inspiration feels appreciated!! Do something nice for yourself. Eat chocolate. A  lot of it. Watch movies. Lots of those too. Read books. Don’t stop.

2. Sleep. Yes, I am a writer. I know exactly how much your body is deprived of sleep. You stay up late, get up early, stay up late, get up early. By the time you’ve reached your goal, your eyes are heavy, your brain hurts every time you open your computer screen. There is a simple remedy to that, believe it or not. What you have to do is as follows: around 10 p.m., go into your bedroom, turn off your light, climb into your covers, close your eyes, and sleep. WOW!! Amazing, right? But really. Sleep is important.

3. Stay away from your computer screen. It is scientifically proven (somewhere?) that staring at the computer screen and typing is bad for your brain somehow. (Yes, I just told you to watch movies. That’s different. Not really.) When you’re that close to a screen, it hurts your eyes, gives you headaches, and disrupts your sleep cycle. Taking time off from reading on the computer or typing on the computer will honestly help.

4. Don’t write. I know that everyone tells you just to write gibberish or whatever until something coherent comes out. But when you’ve reached a goal that you’ve been working at for awhile, that is seriously the worst thing you can do. You’ll burn yourself out. You’ll ruin any ideas that are left in your squishy, tired brain.

5. Exercise! This is probably the most important. You’ve been sitting at your desk, chair, etc. for soooo long, that your muscles have started to atrophy. And when that happens, you know that your brain has followed your body’s example. So. Move around. Do HIIT workouts. Cardio is the best. If you want some free exercise videos that have a range of difficulty levels, check out https://www.fitnessblender.com.

There you have it. Rebooting in 5 simple steps.

Hope this helps, and make sure you give your inspiration, #yourself, a big high five or a hug. Whichever you prefer.

-Julia H.

 

 

 

Twists and Turns

How many times should you surprise your readers?

If you’re like me, you hate books that are predictable, stereotypical. (No, I wasn’t trying to rhyme.) You want to read a book that keeps you hanging onto every word, flipping the pages nand trying so hard not to resist the urge to jump to the end just to see what happens.

But, in regards to your very own novel, how much is too much?

Because you know your own preferences so well, you might accidentally, unintentionally find yourself over doing it.

People don’t like it when you kill characters every three chapters, or have something horrific and horrible happen every five pages.

It’s tiring, and frankly, it’s boring.

Excitement and plot twists work so well in books because they aren’t common.

Plot twists get boring when that’s all your book is about. 

If you think readers don’t want to have to read something boring about the life of someone else, that you need to keep the book filled with deaths and gore and everything blah blah blah… you need to rethink your life…

The only way to make your plot twist fresh and exciting, is to have something normal in between. Something that people can relate to. Everyday people don’t have spaceships crash-landing in their backyard, I know. But everyday people also don’t have every single one of their relatives die on a bright, Sunday afternoon with no warning.

At least, I haven’t heard of anybody who’s had that happen to them…

Readers like books they can relate to. And if you have five HUNDRED plot twists condensed into three chapters, they’re going to yawn and throw your book away.

Have you seen the Batman Vs. Superman film?

Explosions. More explosions. What’s that? Oh, explosions.

Explosions get old.

The same thing happens to plot twists.

Don’t bore your readers with too many twists and turns.

-monkeyeverything-

Controlling your Characters

I’ve heard so, so many people tell me that letting your characters take control of your story is something you don’t want to do. They say that it will destroy your plot, you will end up with ridiculous words and ridiculous situations.

I think differently.

The beauty of writing is letting your characters write the book for you. Yes, it will be chaotic, and yes, you will end up with something you didn’t plan on being in your book. But then it’s real. Your character is bringing in that little flair that your novel lacked.

So no, I don’t believe letting your character take control is a bad thing.

However, you must be careful.

EXTREMELY careful.

I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this month, and I’ve been getting my words down through multiple word sprints. And if you don’t know what a word sprint is, let me enlighten you:

Word sprint- A limited amount of time where you type as fast as you can, generally making so many grammatical errors in only one sentence that your English teacher would have a heart attack.

Word sprinting is a great way to just add more words to your word count. And it allows your characters to shine through and take your plot line on crazy twists and turns.

And when I say crazy, I mean: CRAZY

Yet there are dangers to this method of writing and letting your character take control. As a writer, you need to have ultimate say in the writing of your book. You are the BOSS.

If you let your character dictate every single thing of your book, you will end up with a mess. And when you go back to edit, you will have so many dangling plot strings, you won’t know where to start.

That’s why a little goes a long way.

Let your character add that bit of genius that you lacked while trying to follow your plot points exactly. Let your book take some twists and turns. Let your conflict be controlled to an extent by your character and you’ll find that it will be something that your character can feel emotion over.

Have fun. 

Just following plot points is NOT fun. You don’t immerse yourself in your world, you stay right above it, like some stern dictator who never enjoys anything that he’s dictating.

Allow your character to draw you into the universe of your book.

So, my final words to you are these:

A book is only as believable as its world, but its world is only as believable as its characters. 

Good luck!

-Julia H-

Style Time

{A little while back, we had a request for a grammar and fonts post. Well, here it is! (Once again, a few of our authors were unable to  participate, but we gathered up opinions from as many of our contributors as we could.)}


Okay.

Grammar and fonts.

That’s kinda a tough one. When it comes to fonts, I usually choose whatever style fits my genre. If it’s fantasy/medieval, I’ll choose something that has more of a graceful tilt to it, or something that looks mystical. If my genre is dystopian or sci-fi, I’ll choose a font that’s more down-to-earth and has a hard look.

It’s pretty much the same with grammar, and point of view. It depends on the story. But I love writing in first person. It helps keep my writing active and allows for some really neat writing tricks. Usually, I write first person, present tense. Again, it helps keep my writing active, and it’s just a lot of fun.

I’m not the best at commas or other yucky grammar stuff, but I know enough to keep my writing readable, and I’m mostly on my own with that.

And that’s about it…

I really love choosing fonts and what kind of “person” I’m writing in…It’s one of my fav. things about creative writing…

So yeah.

-Julia H.


 

My main thing with fonts is they have to be readable, so I use Courier or Times New Roman. Sometimes I play around with colors (blue is my favorite!) just for fun, though.

As for grammar, I’m normally pretty good with it. Sometimes I use an app like Grammarly. I also like this website, hemingwayapp.com, because it tells you what grade level your writing is at. (I usually go no higher than 9th or 10th grade).

It makes sure your language isn’t too flowery.

-Rebecca M.


I usually like using the Times New Roman font, or Avenir Light. I’m not sure why, but I really like Avenir. It’s simple and bold, like me.  🙂
Sometimes, though, like when I am writing in journal form, I use Comic San MS or I get a handwriting font from FontSpace. It’s a super cool website where you can search and download any types of fonts: star wars fonts, handwriting fonts, whatever really.

 

As for grammar, I usually try to have the best grammar possible. Although sometimes, if the character is meant to talk with bad grammar, then I write it like that. I usually picture my character, who they are, how they speak, and then write like that.

-Susanna Q.


That was fun! Hope you enjoyed reading it! 

What kind of fonts and grammar do you use? What are your favorites? 

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Talk about a cool font…