It’s Okay If It’s Terrible

Two things don’t mix well: writing and perfectionism. Why? Because writing is one of those art forms where you’re guaranteed not to have the perfect outcome on your first try.

Yet, somehow, even knowing this…I tend to beat myself up when my stories have unnecessary scenes, rabbit trails, out-of-character moments, and plot holes in the drafting process. I find that I’m demanding a level of perfection from my first draft and myself that I would never expect from anyone else. When did I become the exception to the allowance for a “ROUGH first draft”?

When did you?

Continue reading “It’s Okay If It’s Terrible”

How to Give Your Characters Realistic Flaws

For as long as I’ve been a part of the online writing community, the one principle that’s been hammered into me by screenshots, blog posts, and novelists aplenty is this: your characters need to have flaws, otherwise they will be unrealistic and unrelatable. Which is absolutely true. The problem is that many writers are given this advice and then turned loose with no idea of what kind of “flaws” the commentators actually mean.

Cue a spate of heroes and heroines with perfectly upright morality, always making the right decisions, whose flawless visage is only marred by a single problem: “clumsiness.” Or “being misunderstood.” Or “having a Dark Soul that needs saving.” The problem with these kinds of flaws is that they’re usually tacked-on traits for an already-distinguished character who is otherwise in the spotlight of good, all the time.

In this blog post, I want to talk about giving characters real flaws – how to do it, and why having a flawed character it’s actually a very, very good thing.

Continue reading “How to Give Your Characters Realistic Flaws”

Every Rejection is a Victory

How often do we consider that triumph and failure are more a matter of perspective than absolutes?

There are some who believe that the only way to succeed is to accomplish exactly what you set out to do. I’ve never seen it that way…maybe because my long history of anxiety requires me to look at success/failure on a different metric. Instead of the ultimate goal-achievement being the victory, and everything else existing as either a step on the road or a setback, I’ve been training myself to see every bit of the journey as a victory.

That includes the inevitability of rejection.

Continue reading “Every Rejection is a Victory”

The #1 Thing Your Sympathetic MC Needs

There was a movie that came out relatively recent to the writing of this blog post. I won’t name the title, but it was a sequel to a very popular film and I remember how it was sort of expected that you were really supposed to love the main character. This was a person torn between good and evil, having to decide which side to land on. Most people were really smitten with this person. I wasn’t, though I couldn’t figure out why. Their story and this supposed inner conflict and contention between sides just never really gelled for me. It took me forever to put my finger on it: it was a matter of connection.

For me to enjoy a story, I’ve found that the MC needs a connection to the world, so that I can see their conflict through the eyes of someone who cares for them.

Continue reading “The #1 Thing Your Sympathetic MC Needs”

Kill Your Darlings

It’s tough to find a writer who doesn’t love at least some angle of their story. Why would we put ourselves through the brainstorming, drafting, editing, querying, and publishing purgatory otherwise, right? In every draft, there has to be some impetus to keep moving forward. Sometimes it’s a line, an arc, a certain scene, or a particular character that keeps us going.

So, what do you do when one of those much-loved elements becomes obsolete in redrafting? What happens when that bit you loved so much suddenly doesn’t fit anymore, like an orphaned piece in the big picture of the puzzle? I feel that this is quite possibly the most difficult process any writer goes through, and it’s commonly addressed with a somewhat tongue-in-cheek solution: kill your darlings.

Continue reading “Kill Your Darlings”

Writing and Illness

This week, I’m writing about something that’s currently very, very close to my heart. And my brain. And my sinuses. To make a five-day-long story short, I finally caught this winter’s obligatory flu virus. And it has knocked. Me. DOWN.

I know that I’m not alone. I also know that a lot of writers struggle with the way that any illness – and the subsequent brain fog, fatigue, and general feeling of yuckiness – can bring a writing project grinding to a halt. Here on what I sincerely hope is the upswing of my own week-long stint in Illness Hell, I’d like to offer a few tips for facing sickness when you’d rather be writing:

Continue reading “Writing and Illness”

You’re Allowed to Say “No.”

In a previous post, I talked a little bit about how saying “yes” to writing means saying “no” to doing something else. Because of the great importance of that choice, I wanted to focus this week’s pep talk on encouraging all of you: it is okay to say no to things. You have every right to guard your writing time. In fact, you may have to, in order to succeed in your writing goals.

Continue reading “You’re Allowed to Say “No.””

Five Ways to Silence Your Inner Editor

For anyone familiar with NaNoWriMo, you’ve probably heard the encouragement to “Ignore your Inner Editor” during the month of November. Just get the words down on paper, no matter how poor they are. Forget proper grammar and sentence structure. Ignore plot holes and mistakes. Don’t even backspace or fix a typo! In the words of Nike brand – Just Do It.

Easier said than done, right?

Sometimes, silencing your inner editor is actually more of a feat than the writing process itself. This Editor is the nitpicking voice in the back of your head that will hyper-criticize anything from your entire plot to character voice to the structure and verbiage of a single sentence. The one thing all IEs have in common is that, if they scream loudly enough, they make it almost impossible to move forward in your draft. They make the doubts seem louder than the words you’re trying to put to paper. In short, the Inner Editor does not understand when it’s needed and when it needs to go away.

So, this week, we’re going to look at a few ways to silence that Editor so you can finish your draft.

Continue reading “Five Ways to Silence Your Inner Editor”