Channeling Your Emotions into Dark Writing Themes & Writing Complex Characters + Goals Update

4 Mar

Last weekend, I released a new YouTube video discussing the idea of channeling your own emotions in order to tackle dark themes in your writing and how this can result in more complex characters. Also, I reference some of my personal life experiences and explain how they manifest in my writing.

 

I really believe that if you’re going to play with any particular theme in a story—be it light or dark—then it’s important to come from a personal place when doing so. Otherwise, you run the risk of writing a story that does not emotionally resonate with readers in an authentic way and instead comes across more like a dry essay or intellectual exercise in flexing your technical literary muscles.

At least, this has been my experience while wrestling with my WIP and reading other people’s writing. Continue reading

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On the Importance of Being ‘Black’ & the Burden of ‘Proof’

1 Mar

Today, I was watching an interesting YouTube video by a biracial writer named Maya Goode, who was discussing the topic of “do I have to ‘prove my blackness as a writer?'”—to which my response would be a resounding hell no.

Allow me to explain.

‘Blackness,’ Today, Retains a Mindset of Enslavement, Sadly

To be honest, I’ve always found it mind-boggling how biracial people can be treated in the United States. My cousins, who are mixed, have always talked about feeling as if they never really “fit in” with blacks or whites. Yet, as for me and my black family and how I didn’t grow up with “the struggle” of being poor, I have constantly been reminded of this—especially by my mixed cousins. How could I possibly understand what it means to be black when I haven’t even had to “struggle?”

Personally, I don’t care for being black. At all. “Black” is a prison some choose to erect around themselves in order to feel safe then force onto others who make them feel unsafe.

Why would I want to be “black” when so many other “black” people have failed to accept me—the same “blacks” who are constantly trying to find ways to invalidate other people’s experiences so they can elevate their experiences over that of others, just so they can feel better about themselves? That is the most enslaving attitude a person can choose to cling to all of his or her life, and I refuse to live that way.

It’s like certain black Americans today simply refuse to just let go of the idea of slavery…despite that it’s everything our ancestors have suffered for and fought so hard against. (Oddly enough, I don’t think this mindset restricts itself to the black community.)

What good is there in limiting your creative potential to ethnic or cultural expectations? Continue reading

Writing Vlog #1: Plotting & Editing a Fantasy Novel

4 Feb

So today, I decided to post a vlog about where I am with my WIP novel, The Elementalist: Rise of Hara. Basically, I discuss the methods I’ve tried, what’s worked for me, what hasn’t, etc…and what that all amounts to: in the end, you just have to try different things and find out what works for you!

 

In other news, today has been a very sad day for me.  I decided it was necessary to put my two kitty cats, Kit Kat and Tigger (shown in the video), to sleep. 😦 I’m incredibly sad about it so won’t go into the details today, but I plan on talking about it in a more appropriately-themed post a few weeks from now.

Anyway, that’s all for now. 🙂 Thanks for reading/watching!

Why I Write Fantasy

22 Jan

Quick note: just posted a new short-ish video on YouTube talking about why, and how, I decided to start writing fantasy stories! (It’s 15 minutes long—short for me, anyway.)

Why do you write/read fantasy?

What drew you/continues to draw you to this genre? Or alternatively, what do you like about reading fantasy stories? Let me know in the comments!

Quote from Patrick Rothfuss

18 Jan

A quote that basically sums up the struggle that has been my writing life, from this interview with Patrick Rothfuss on Wired:

There was so much that wasn’t in those initial drafts, simply because I had no idea what I was doing in terms of structuring a story. I put words together fine. I could write dialog and scene. I could even make an interesting chapter. But a book is so much more than a series of interesting chapters. And that’s what it took me a fucking decade to figure out.

15 years, he says, it took him to finish The Name of the Wind.

Good news, guys: I’m only on my 10th!

Pantser Special: Using Story Structure Models to Write a Synopsis (& Tighten Your Plot)

14 Jan

Not long ago, while editing my novel, it occurred to me that eventually, I’ll be expected to provide a synopsis of my story whenever I do get around to submitting to agents. (The horror!) As someone who started this ginormous project as a bonafide pantser after failing to produce a likable manuscript going the outlining route, well, the idea of writing a synopsis seemed like a big fat joke…until I realized it really wasn’t.

Without a coherent, logical structure, my story would be DOA.

So…when a YouTuber I follow named Shaelin Bishop posted a video about a 15 Beat Plot Structure this week, I decided to tune in and watch. Perhaps, I reasoned, I could learn something useful.

Boy, did I ever!

Now, I’ve read articles about all sorts of story structures in the past—some more detailed than others—but this “15 Beat” one just seemed to really “click” for me. Maybe because I already had my story pretty much figured out this time around; maybe because it’s actually meant for the visual medium of movies, which I tend to see more than I read, and I’m a very visual person. Anyhow, while listening to Shaelin explain it, I was nodding my head along, mentally listing the ways my story already seemed to align with the plot progressions she was explaining.

Phew! What a relief. I guess, without really thinking about it as “creating a plot structure,” that’s exactly what I’ve been doing all along!

Well, this came as a great relief to the-pantser-that-is-me. Maybe, I thought to myself, I should actually try being organized for once and write down this plot of mine now—y’know, just to make sure I’m telling a coherent story. (It certainly is an easier way to examine plot without the multitude of details of worldbuilding and dialogue and what have you getting in the way.) Within a half an hour of drafting my story structure in Word, I realized that this whole little exercise could actually help me tighten my plot.

It could also, potentially, become the starting point for my synopsis! Continue reading

Coloring Your Writing with Words

7 Jan

As a visual merchandiser with a background in interior design, I tend to see the world in a very visually-oriented way. This even applies to my writing. People who have read some of my flash fiction or story snippets often mention they get a strong sense of place and really feel like they are in the settings I write about, and I think my ability to use elements such as color and space to manipulate atmosphere in the physical world really has a lot to do with this!

I’ve been wanting to make a video talking about how our words as writers are as important as colors are to artists and designers; there are so many to choose from and they can really “color” our writing!

 

This isn’t really a “how to” video so much as it is a reminder for us writers to really pay attention to the words we choose when telling our stories and how we use them—something that’s definitely been on my mind while editing my WIP.

Some of the leading English dictionaries have close to half a million words in them, which is pretty amazing when you think about it! Not to mention, our language is always evolving, as new words and turns of phrases seem to pop up just about each year in everyday use. It can be easy reverting to our personal go-to words to the point where, when we go back and look at our writing, they stand out as being overused. Keeping a thesaurus handy in such instances as well as being mindful of what words we choose to tell our stories with can be helpful. (There are times I know there’s a better word and I can’t remember it; then I search thesaurus.com for similar words and am like, “Ah-ha! That’s the one!”)

Anyway, this video is just an exercise in word choice and how the words we choose can be used to create context, subtext, mood, tone, or whatever else we aim to achieve in our stories.

How do you “color your writing?”

Happy New Year! + 2017 Goals

1 Jan

I feel like, for many, 2016 was a troubling year. I look around me and see so much sadness about events and losses from last year. Then I look at my own life and realize that my experience has been surprisingly positive in comparison.

My biggest loss of 2016 was my boyfriend “R” moving back to Chicago. I could have let that ruin my year. I could have remained very torn up and bitter and depressed about it. I could have let it destroy our relationship. Instead, it’s become an opportunity for me and “R” to grow as individuals and share our experiences and lessons we’ve learned along the way.

If anything, it’s made our relationship stronger—a result many people in long-distance relationships don’t get to experience—and for that, I am grateful.

In other areas of my life, I’ve rededicated myself to completing work on my first novel. Those who have followed my blog for any substantial amount of time and are familiar with my journey while working on The Elementalist: Rise of Hara (TEROH) know that this is a pretty big deal for me. It’s been a struggle and continues to be so, but I’ll get to that later.

Anyway, I’m not normally into setting yearly goals, but this year I decided I should set a few because there are things that are important to me that I want to make progress on or cross off my list before the end of 2017. So this year, I’m setting 3 goals for myself. Continue reading

10 Dieselpunk or Diesel-Era Action/Adventure Movies & TV Shows (Part I)

24 Dec

I’ll try to make this one quick, but in a nutshell…let’s talk movies and TV shows.

…Dieselpunk or diesel-era-inspired ones, that is!

 

Any kind of story that is set in or inspired by the early 1900s almost always catches my interest, so today I thought I’d share some of my favorite action and adventure movies and TV shows that fall under this category.

Hope you enjoy!

Have you seen any of these movies or TV shows before?

If so, what did you think about them?  Which of these is your favorite?  Which is you least favorite?

I’d probably have to say The Mummy (1999) is my favorite on this list. I’ve seriously watched it more times than I can keep track of. (My protagonist Voi from The Elementalist: Rise of Hara was somewhat inspired by Evelyn Carnahan, the loveable-but-klutzy Egyptologist and librarian heroine from this movie, after all.  So there you go.)

I don’t really celebrate holidays much anymore, but for those who do, I hope you have a Happy Holiday(s)!

Story Excerpt – The Elementalist: Rise of Hara, Chapter 1

5 Dec

Hello, everyone! So I’m still in Summerlin and had a really, really long night (pulled a 13.5 hour shift). Regardless, it’s been a while since I posted a new video for my YouTube channel, so I decided to record an excerpt of my WIP, The Elementalist: Rise of Hara. I actually read it out loud.

Just like I’ve been doing during my edits!

This one starts not at the very beginning of the story but in the protagonist’s first chapter. The story is setup in “parts,” and Part I is told from another main character’s POV to introduce what’s going on elsewhere in the world, leading up to the protagonist’s role–which I introduce in Part II.

I may record the second chapter sometime, as well, as it introduces the shady government agent who approaches the protagonist, Voi. But we’ll see.

I return home in 3 days, after which I’ll be able to get back to my read-out-loud edits. (I’m not doing it during this trip only because I think differently at night and tend to miss things after 10+ hour shifts…)

What did you think?

Do you like the story so far?  Is it something you would be interested in continuing reading?  I have a few people who’ve volunteered to be beta readers already (yay!), whom I’ll be sending out my manuscript to early next year, so it could change based on their feedback. We’ll see.  But that’s what I have for now.

Anyway, thanks for watching/reading/listening!