Posted in Blogging 101, Challenges

Who Are You Talking To?

“Take a bow dear.”

“For who? There’s no one in the audience.”

“Not yet, but there will be. We must practice for them.” Madame Arsenault waved her hands at the empty seats. “Soon these seats will be filled with people from all walks of life. We must perform so that our ideal audience remains seated.”

“Ideal audience? What, you mean people who show up and sit down?”

Madame Arsenault laughed, her hands clutching her stomach. “No dear child. By ideal audience, I mean the people you want to watch you. I perform for my dear Gracie. I dedicate each performance to her.”

“Oh – I don’t know who I perform for. I suppose I perform for myself.” I lift my hand up to my mouth and start chewing on my fingernails.

“That’s good, but it’s not enough. If you just performed for yourself, why do you share it?” Madame Arsenault pulls my hand away from my mouth. “And don’t chew your nails dear, it’s a horrid habit.”

“Ok, I perform for myself and others like me.”

“Are all of your performances for yourself?”

“I don’t know. I suppose not. There are times when I perform for my family or my friends. But when I do perform for them, it is different from my normal work. My performances for my nephews are short and fanciful. Performances for my parents are deep but strange. My sister is a very logical person so when I perform for her, everything is straight to the point with no fuss.”

“What about that man of yours? Do you ever perform for him?”

“There are times but those are just for him.”

“And this performance, right now, who is this for?”

“This is for me. It’s weird, wonderful, and strangely to the point.”

 

 

This post was writing in response to Blogging 101’s assignment to “Focus on Your Audience”.

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Posted in A.P. Roberts, Blogging 101, Challenges

Let Me Express Myself

I will start by being 100% honest with you; I am writing this post while listing to a playlist of Madonna’s best music.

 

AP’s Quill began as AP Roberts’ Stories. I thought that by making a site dedicated to my writing I would write more often. I had big plans to post only stories and poems. I didn’t need to write about the craft of writing because I felt I already knew everything.

That didn’t happen. I wrote many snippets of scenes and stories but failed to post 95% of what I wrote. And most of what I did post was about the craft of writing rather than my creative writing.

My lack of posting had little to do with the blog and more to do with the fact that my SO was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) and required a bone marrow transplant (BMT). The time I spent writing was usually while waiting to see doctors or watching my SO get a transfusion.

Continue reading “Let Me Express Myself”

Posted in A.P. Roberts, Blogging 101, Challenges

It All Starts Tomorrow… #Blogging101

I did it. I finally signed up for Blogging 101, one of the free courses offered by the WordPress team over at the Daily Post.

While I have wanted to sign up for another Writing University course for a while, I’ve felt extremely anxious about it. I’ve allowed my fears to dictate my life in terms of what I attempt. In truth I have allowed my fears to turn into regrets.

I have having regrets. They are heavy on the mind and weighty on the soul. Blogging 101 shall no longer be a chain that drags me down.

Besides, my blog could use a good update and I could use the kick in the pants.

In all honesty, I’m excited. This is the first month where I’m not acting as caregiver to my SO (he was finally given the go-ahead to start back at work and get live vaccinations!), and because of that I am able to put more into my writing. My celebration is to join and finish Blogging 101.

Who is with me? Anyone else getting a refresher or starting a new blog?

Posted in A.P. Roberts

It’s About Making Time

Far too often I’ve found myself apologizing for not having written in a long time. I will make no excuses because I have not been trying to make time for my writing.

I have made time for other things, such as taking my nephew and sister-in-law to the circus or taking SO to the zoo. Unfortunately, writing was shoved down the list of priorities in the last few months and was shoved into a mere 10 or 15 minutes a week.

Those of you who blog know that 10 minutes is not enough time to write and edit a post. In fact, 10 minutes is not nearly enough time for me to even finish a post. I have many, many half-written posts on my computer that may not ever see life beyond my computer.

I’m not going to make promises that I will post every day or even every week because right now my priorities lie with my family. What I am going to try is to make more time for writing in my life.

Whether this time is snuck into zoo trips or during breaks at work, I will make time for writing. Because time is not found, it is made.

Posted in On Writing, Useful Sites, Writing Rants

Abuse in Fiction: Romance

It seems like every other romance story found on the internet has aspects of abuse throughout the story. Whether this abuse is from one of the main characters to the other or from a secondary character toward a main character, the abuse is usually written in a way that makes it seem alright. In some cases the abuse is glamorized and in other cases it is glossed over as unimportant information.

This bothers me as there are many people who are victims of abuse and this abuse is neither unimportant nor glamorous.

Continue reading “Abuse in Fiction: Romance”

Posted in On Writing, Useful Sites, Writing Rants

Abuse in Fiction: Backstories

Many lazy writers attempt to create reader sympathy by saying that their main character was abused. At times these writers will include a chapter or two which involves the abuse. Unfortunately, the abuse is rarely dealt with in a healthy manner and tends to be quickly forgotten by the writer.

Words cannot describe how much this angers me.

Abuse affects people’s emotions and thought processes. Different people react differently to abuse. Different types of abuse affect people in different ways. Whether the abused realizes that the abuse affects their life or not, there are lasting effects that need to be dealt with.

If you must have your character abused in their past, make sure you include some of the side effects in their characterization.

Don’t include abuse simply because you want readers to feel sorry for your characters. Victims of abuse deserve so much better than you making light of what they have gone through. They are so strong to have come out the other end despite the scars they may carry. Please, if you include abuse, do them justice by writing it well and doing your research.

I’m not an expert on the effects of abuse and I don’t claim to be. Everything I know comes from what I’ve witnessed and through research. The following links are to some of my favourite, trusted sites that I go to when I need more information about this particular topic.

Posted in On Writing, Writing Rants

Why Writers Should Read

One of my friends* told me that he was an avid writer. I was ecstatic because none of my other friends at the time understood how much I loved to write. I asked him what genre he preferred to write in and he responded with a confused look. So then I asked him what authors he took inspiration from. At that point he uttered something which I found difficult to believe. He told me that he doesn’t read.

I found it extremely difficult to understand how someone could be an avid writer but not read anything. However, when I read his story, I finally believed that he does not read very much, if at all.

His stories were riddled with errors which made them almost impossible to get through. Truth be told, if he wasn’t a close friend I wouldn’t have bothered reading past the first few lines. He stopped writing a few years ago as he found other hobbies to fill his time but I will never forget the lesson he taught me about writing; those who wish to improve their writing should read.**

I’ve learned many things about writing through reading the stories of others. Every time I read a well written book, my writing knowledge grows. Through reading I have improved my characters, description, plots, grammar, and spelling.

 Characters

While my character ideas come from people I have met in my life, the way I describe my characters is inspired by the stories I have read. If I read a story with well written characters, I ask myself what it is I like about the character and how can I emulate that in my writing.

For some stories, I like that the character is believable. I like how the character reacts to situations and that their personality grows in a normal manner. Characters take their time to fall in love and are cautious about doing something which hurt them before.

In other stories I like how the author shares information about the character without interfering with the plot. It takes a lot of work to be able to filter in back-story and physical description without slowing down the action.

Description

In general I have trouble writing out description without bogging down my stories. I can never tell while I’m writing if I’ve included enough description or if I’ve written too much. What may seem like good description to me, pales in comparison to the description of other writers.

Anton Chekov famously said “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” When I compare my description to others, I feel as if I’m telling readers that the moon is shining whereas they are showing the glint of light.

I take notes when I find sections of description I like. Sometimes the description is very short, slipped into action without slowing the pace of the story. At other times the author gets into the character’s head and reader learns how the character views the world from the description given.

Through these notes, I’ve realized that many of my favourite authors only use relevant description. Everything they describe helps readers understand the plot more fully. Because of this, when I’m revising my works for description, I rate the passages against relevance to the plot.

Plot

Of course, description is of no use if the plot line is confused. While plots may seem like one of the easiest parts of a story, they can prove the trickiest if the writer doesn’t have sense of what makes a plot good.

Any writer who has pantsed their way through a long story can tell you how easily the plot can derail from your beginning idea. Plot holes form that you skip over because you don’t want to lose your current train of thought. A simple scene can make you change who your main characters are or where you start your story. Sub-plots can appear that you may not have thought of or can disappear before they are resolved.

The only way to remedy these is to know what takes away from your plot and what helps your plot. In order for you to know this, you need to figure out what your plot is.

When I was first starting out in my writing path, I use to compare my plot lines to those of faery tales. I would make a list of all the events which happen in the faery tale and I would make a similar list of the events in my story. Once the lists were made I would see if my list flowed as nicely as the faery tale list. Most of the time my list did not match up nicely against the faery tale. Sometimes the events would jump, as if there were a scene or two missing. Other times there would be scenes that would work better in another story.

While I can now pick out plot holes and unnecessary scenes without comparing against another plot, it has taken years to develop this skill.

Grammar

As with developing my plotting skills, it has taken me years to develop what I consider a passing knowledge of grammar. Reading has taught me how well written grammar should look. By knowing what good grammar is, I can more easily catch the grammar mistakes in my works.

That being said, reading does not teach everything about grammar unless you are reading grammar and style books. Reading is not the only way to learn grammar but it is one of the best starting points for new writers.

Spelling

Similar to grammar, reading can help give writers a start on proper spelling. This trick only works when stories have been edited for spelling. Reading allows the writer to know what the words should look like. The more familiar writers become with correctly spelled words, the more likely they will spell the words correctly themselves.

Summary

For those who skipped the majority of this post, the TL;DR version is as follows. Through reading properly edited works which are similar to what you are writing, you will be able to better catch the mistakes which you make. This is simply because of familiarity. The more familiar with something you are, the more you can see the differences.

These are the ways reading has improved my writing. How has reading improved yours? Do you disagree with any of the points I made?

 

* I am withholding the name of my friend as he is a very gentle creature who is extremely creative. While his writing was an extreme case, I have also read many online stories which contain one or more of these traits.

** There is a vast difference between reading to improve your writing style and comparing your writing against another’s work. There is also a difference between gaining knowledge from reading and plagiarizing someone’s work.

Posted in Writing

Marny’s Dream

Trigger Warning: Character Death, Suicide

 

Marny tossed in her bed; her eyes fluttering in the REM cycle. Her arm landed on her stomach as a gasp made its way out of her mouth.

She could hear their laughter. They were laughing at her. They thought she was oblivious.

And she had been.

She had thought that they were her friends. She had believed the girls to be the sisters her parents couldn’t give her.

Until she heard them talking to David about courting.

And David. Her David. She had thought him to be her soul mate. She had thought they would spend their lives together.

Until she heard him asking her friend to marry him.

Continue reading “Marny’s Dream”

Posted in Challenges, NaNo, On Writing

That NaNo Time of Year

For the past 8 years I have participated in NaNoWriMo and this year is no exception.

On November 1st, NaNo seemed like an insurmountable challenge akin to my first few years when I was recovering from surgeries and under heavy pain medication. Those years I didn’t win NaNo; in fact, I didn’t even come close. With all the stress involved in my life at this time, I was ready to give up on NaNo before I began. I thought I would end up writing nothing because all of my time would be spent working overtime and helping with my father-in-law’s estate. I was in a panic because I had nothing figured out and I was stressed more than I can ever recall.

Then, today, I did something amazing. I started with a blank page and the words started flowing. They weren’t quite the words I was expecting and certainly not the genre I tend to fall back on, but they were words and they were written.

While I have yet to post my word count on the site I am progressing. Despite the stress involved in figuring out my father-in-law’s estate, I have managed to write a fair number of words. Despite losing hours to working overtime, I have words.

I don’t claim that the words I’ve written are masterpieces of literature. I don’t claim that any of my writing today has been grammatically correct. I have run my post through the WordPress proofreader and through several spellcheck programs. I am hopeful that my worst errors have been caught and corrected. However, right now I feel such freedom from having written through the stress that I don’t mind if I missed something.

I will allow my perfectionist self to deal with my stress levels in a separate area of my brain. For now, my writerly self is going to write.

What about you? If you’re taking part in NaNo this year are you keeping on track? Are you pantsing like me or do you have detailed plans?

Posted in World Building, Writing

Book of Faces

The book was made of a very thin leather that almost seemed fragile. Every few pages the leather would change; whether in quality or colour; and with it, the story would also change.

If one were to take the time to translate all the languages in the book they would find a history of the cult. The first few stories, written in the most ancient language, told the stories of the first generation.

There weren’t many in the first generation, only about ten or so, but they were close. They hid from the rest of the world as they worshipped in the dark. They married and had children to whom they taught their religion.

The religion grew and ten followers soon became twenty which became fifty then over one hundred. But the book didn’t hold all of their stories. After the first ten stories, the only stories which were written into the book were the stories of priests and priestesses who had made a difference to the cult.

Researchers who dared to ask the right questions and complete the right tests may find out more than they wished to. If the researcher tested the material of the book, they would have a most gruesome discovery. For the leather that makes up the paper is comprised of human skin.

To be more specific, the leather is made up of skin from the faces of the people the stories are about.

To the members of the cult, becoming a part of the book is a rite of honour. Many members have pledged their lives to the protecting of this sacred book while others have pledged their lives to becoming a part of the book.

For all the history and sacredness of the book, its name is quite simple and will give clues to the book’s composition. The title, if translated properly, is “The Book of Faces”.