Posted in A.P. Roberts, On Writing, Reality in Fiction, Useful Sites

Reality in Fiction: Transplants Part Two

Warning: This post is the continuation of last week’s post. It was even more difficult for me to get through as some of these issues are still current in my SO’s health. If you have questions, please ask. As well, if you have opinions or information, please feel free to share in the comments.

POST-TRANSPLANT

Recovery is different for every transplant but in each instance recovery can take time. Most transplants require patients to be hospitalized for at least a few days post-transplant so that the doctors can closely monitor their recovery process.

Each patient reacts to recovery in a different way. Some patients may find they recover at a fairy quick pace without many incidents. Other patients may find they recovery quickly at the beginning but start to slow down the further into their recovery that they get. There are patients who find their recovery is a slow process which may require another transplant before they reach full health. And, sadly, there are patients who may never recover their health after transplant. All of these occurrences are normal.

Continue reading “Reality in Fiction: Transplants Part Two”

Posted in A.P. Roberts, On Writing, Reality in Fiction, Useful Sites

Reality in Fiction: Transplants Part One

Warning: This post was difficult for me to write due to the subject being so close to my heart. I apologize in advance if this is not edited to my normal quality as I had a difficult time reading it through. As well, if there is anything you feel I have missed, please let me know. I am planning a part 2 for transplants to include more information I gathered over the last few years.

The first thing to remember about transplants is that every transplant is different and every transplant patient has a different experience. Both transplant and recovery can vary greatly from patient to patient.

FINDING OUT

Patients who require transplants usually find out about their need because they become very ill. In fact, it can be obvious from looking at the patient that there is something wrong. They go to the doctor because of these symptoms and are given tests to find out the problem. Once the doctor figures out why the symptoms are present in the patient, they may refer the patient to a specialist. It may be the family doctor or the specialist who diagnoses the specific issue that requires transplant.

Continue reading “Reality in Fiction: Transplants Part One”

Posted in On Writing, Reality in Fiction, Useful Sites

Reality in Fiction: Absent Parents

There are an untold number of stories on the internet where teenagers have absent parents. While this can give the writer of the story more leeway into what their young characters can do, it is also very unrealistic.

This is not to say that there are no parents out there who leave their children alone for long periods of time. Nor am I saying that there are no parents who care as little for their children as they do for a stranger. What I am saying is that these scenarios are not the norm and constitute bad parenting.

If parents leave their under-aged children alone, there must be a reason. For instance, the parent may work away from home or during the evenings. Single parents may need to work several jobs. Other parents may be neglectful because they never wanted kids or they want to party.

Regardless of the reason for the under-aged children being left alone, there are consequences.

Continue reading “Reality in Fiction: Absent Parents”

Posted in On Writing, Reality in Fiction, Useful Sites

Reality in Fiction: Grief

There are many things which can be grieved and what connects them all is loss. People will grieve the loss of a job just as much as they will grieve the loss of a person. If it involves a loss, then it also involves grief.

Loss can be grieved in any number of ways. The grief may be express quickly which will also begin the healing process quickly or the grief may take years to be expressed in which case the healing may never come.

Unfortunately, there are many stories where the writer forgets that their character is grieving. When the writer forgets about the character’s loss, the character also forgets about their loss. This means that the character does not deal with their grief.

If grief is not dealt with, it can get worse. Grief can turn into depression or complicated grief which may require professional help.

The most well-known stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages can overlap, repeat, or skip; and there is no set timeline nor set order for the stages.

Continue reading “Reality in Fiction: Grief”

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 On Writing, Writing 101

Writing 101: Writers vs People Who Write

This post was written in response to Writing 101: Give and Take.

My choice of topic for the Give and Take prompt is writers and people who write. While you are reading this please keep in mind that it is an opinion piece. If you share my opinion or have a different view to offer I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

I attempted to write this post solely in a text conversation. It was short lived. I have included it here in the beginning but if you are triggered by poor grammar and spelling please do not read and skip down to the last few paragraphs.

 

what u mean im not a writr? i write lots

There is more to being a writer than just being able to put words on paper.

huh

There is a difference between someone who writes and a writer. There is also a difference between a writer and an author but I won’t get into that today.

what u talking bout?

I’m talking about the desire to do better. Saying you are a writer because you write is like saying I’m an athlete because I like to shoot hoops with my friends. An athlete desires to be a better player. They put time and effort into playing their sport the best they can. If you wish to be a writer you need the desire to better your writing. You need to put the time and effort into the work you produce.

i do. I worte a chappy today. I get lots of votes online. People say I need to write more.

But do you care about the quality of your writing or about how many votes you get?

whats the difference

The difference is that writers care more about the quality of their writing. They know that good quality writing is not easily forgotten. They know that writing designed to get more votes is forgotten as soon as the person who writes it stops posting.

 

And here is the end of my badly written texting conversation. I would have continued but I was getting a headache trying to write that poorly. For those who skipped the text conversation, my actual post begins in the next paragraph.

There is a bit of confusion in the writing community about what constitutes a writer. For some, a writer is anyone who puts words to paper. For others, a writer is someone who has been published. I, however, feel that a writer is not one or the other but is somewhere between the two.

Once a person has put words on paper, they have become a person who writes. They are not yet a writer.

A person who writes generally has little care about the quality of the writing they produce. They may post their work online and expect everyone to love it. They are concerned more about views, votes or comments than they are concerned about what they are writing.

If a reader comments on spelling or grammar, a person who writes will become defensive. They will tell the reader that grammar and spelling are boring and no one cares. They may tell the reader to stop flaming them or flag the comment for spam.

However not all is lost, a person who writes can become a writer.

A writer cares about improving their writing. They welcome critiques* as it gives them information on how to improve. A writer reads everything they can for inspiration, guidance and research. A writer knows that the more they write the better the writing becomes.

It’s easy to be a person who writes, especially in the age of internet. However, passion for the written word is what differentiates a writer from someone who writes.

 

* A critique is similar to a review in that it gives information about what is and is not liked. The difference is that a critique also offers suggestions about how it can be improved.

Posted in On Writing

Reward Yourself

I’ve written before about making writing goals but there is one-step that I left out of the goal making process; goal rewards.

As you can probably tell from the name, goal rewards are the rewards you give yourself for reaching a goal. While this may seem like a given for some people, rewards are a tool that many do not use.

Rewards can be anything from a bowl of ice cream to a cruise. I know of several writers who reward a page of writing with gummy bears. The aim of the rewards is to acknowledge the accomplishment of completing a set goal.

The one thing to keep in mind when deciding on rewards is the size of the goal. Small goals, such as a certain word count or time limit, should have smaller rewards. The smaller rewards should not distract you from the larger goals. If you know that rewarding yourself with 15 minutes of games will turn into 15 hours of gaming, choose a different reward.

Larger goals should have larger rewards. The more you have to work towards a goal, the less satisfied you will be with a reward you can get any time. If you have spent a year polishing your novel, you won’t be satisfied with a bag of popcorn when you self-publish it.

As with goals, rewards should be personalized to you. When choosing a reward, pick something that you want and that you feel is worth the work you will be putting into the goal.

Unlike goals, rewards should be separate from your writing. You may feel as if seeing your novel in print will be a reward in itself but don’t rely solely on that reward. At times, you won’t want to work on your writing, those are the times you need a different motivator. If you cannot bring yourself to sit down to write for the sake of writing, you may be able to write in order to get that trip to Hawaii.

Some of my favourite rewards are new books, eating out, dying my hair and spa days. What rewards would motivate you through writer’s block? Do you split up your rewards or do you have one major reward for completing multiple goals?

Posted in Character Development, On Writing

Name Meanings

All of my characters start off their life with either the name George or Georgina.

To me, the name George is a filler name because it is the most common name that I know. Some characters end up staying as George but most develop another name at some point in the story. This other name is usually the one that stays with them for several drafts because it has a specific meaning to the character.

While there are many different ways to add meaning to your character’s name, there are three which I find myself using for the majority of my character names.

The first way of adding meaning is to find out what your character’s role or goal in the story. Once you know this you can narrow down what you want your character’s name to mean. For instance, if your character is set to be a mighty warrior then you can begin searching name dictionaries for “warrior” and choose from the list generated.

The second way to add meaning to your character’s name is to find out which names were popular in your story’s time and location. This can be done by searching through census data or through history books.

The third way to add meaning is to create it. If your story is set in Victorian London and you want to name your character Rain, then have a story behind it. Perhaps the mother was a firm believer in the supernatural and had been told by a gypsy fortune-teller that she should name her daughter Rain.

By having a meaning behind your character’s name, you can gain more insight into your character and their background. Whether or not you share the story, by knowing the meaning you can use it to more fully develop your character.

Does the name mean something to the story? Does it show the time period or setting? Did his parents name him Alfonso because they thought the name was nice or because that was the name of his great-uncle?

Check out these links to search for names by years:

http://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/

http://www.babycenter.com/babyNameYears.htm

http://www.behindthename.com/top/