Writing for Comics

I started writing a comic about this time last year, and since then I’ve managed to not only finalize the script but actually start getting pages drawn and posted. And even though it’s been a year, I have learned a lot. Mostly by learning from my mistakes.

The first thing to realize with scripting is that, even though you’re still putting words on a page, is that the script isn’t the final product. In this case, the comic is. But this is also true for scripts for film or stage or games. Unlike writing short stories or novels, where the words and how they appear on the page are the final product, the script is just a stepping stone.  Continue reading

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Favorite Writing Rules To Break – Flashbacks

Writing rules – and our favorite ones to break – has been a topic that repeatedly comes up at Ferret Business Meetings when we’re just chattering. (Yes, we have business meetings! Those are what keeps this blog on track!) One of the more common sayings in the writing community is that you have to know the writing rules before you break them, so you know how and when to break them properly.

But sometimes writing ‘rules’ are really writing pet peeves, and so much of it is dependent on genre. (Note: we are not talking about grammar rules here. Those are necessary, and while they can be bent, most of them cannot be completely broken. Learn them. Know them. Become one with them.)

In the last few years in the writing world, especially those who write/read fantasy, I’ve heard a lot of negative comments about flashbacks. It took me a bit by surprise. Continue reading

You Don’t Have to Change the World with Your Words

I shared my newest poem with one of the other Ferrets this week. She read it and told me she liked it, that it painted a lovely swirly image for her, but it just didn’t have the one-two punch that some of my other work does.

Now this did not upset me in the least. Firstly because I always trust that the criticism coming from my Ferret sisters is given honestly and with the intention of making me a better writer. Secondly because it was still wonderful feedback. I am confident that my words didn’t fall flat if I successfully painted an image in someone’s head upon reading them. But it did get me thinking…

I know what she meant when she said it didn’t have the same impact as some of my other work, but I think a lot of people, a lot of readers and writers both, have begun to use this as a negative comment. Much of the writing community has fallen under the impression that all of your words must matter. And they should matter… to you. How they affect others, well, that’s on them. Continue reading

Finding Your Reader – The Evolution of a Writer: The Middle Years

The Evolution of Becoming a Writer Part 4

For a long time, I didn’t know who to write for. Seems silly, I know. The obvious choice is “write for yourself,” but that’s hard. The stuff I write only for myself I don’t want anyone else to read. So what to do about the stuff I want to write for others?

Turns out, writing for some vague, amorphous “anyone” is a terrible choice.

I’ve heard of the phrase, “If you open a window and make love to the world… your story will get pneumonia” (–Kurt Vonnegut). Stephen King has similar advice about finding your One True Reader and writing just for them. They boil down to essentially the same thing: writing specifically for one person. It’s more than just knowing your audience. Having a particular person I’m writing for actually makes the writing easier.

Unfortunately I hadn’t really processed that until now. I used to be caught up in the marketability of what I’m working on, whether it would sell, whether anyone would read it. I used to think if I wanted to get anywhere, to be a REAL writer, I had to write nothing but ORIGINAL, THOUGHT-PROVOKING STUFF.

It is incredibly hard to write when you’re anxious about stuff like that.

Continue reading

Writing Skills – Learning What Not to Do

Lots of writing advice encourages you to read books you love, to break them down and find out what makes them work so well, and why you love the story so much.

But what about stories that drive you up the wall?

You can learn just as much from writing you don’t like as you can from writing you do. Learning what not to do is a critical part of the writing process.

For a while, one of my guilty pleasure TV shows was Teen Wolf. Eventually, I had to quit watching for a number of reasons, but the biggest one was that the writing went from “solid” to “more holes than Swiss cheese.”

I learned a lot about what not to do from watching that show, but the most important thing I learned?

Think your story through.

Continue reading

The Act of Writing

Alright, so our lovely Michelle is on vacation this week, so I’m filling in. I want to talk about the actual act of writing.

If you’re a writer–professional, aspiring, or anywhere in between–then you’ve probably read an advice column/blog post/book or two on writing. More than likely, those pieces of advice all had one thing in common: in order to be a writer, one must write.

Which is absolutely true.

But I think, sometimes, that people–especially new writers–get bogged down in the act of writing. We all know that we need to write. We even have a vague idea as to how. And yet, the act of just getting your butt in the chair and get to work is, well, difficult.

And yes, I’m speaking from personal experience.

But unless you actually get your butt in that chair (or couch or balance ball or wherever it is you like to perch on in order to spill out your words), you’re not really going to do any writing. So, as a person who can have an incredibly difficult time of convincing herself that she needs to actually work on her projects, I have compiled a list of ways I have managed to successfully get myself into my chair in order to write. Some of them may work for you. Some of them may not. I’ve added in my two cents on what I think of them, but at always, your mileage may vary. Try them out at your leisure, and let me know whatever more tricks you have personally come up with along the way.

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Editing Your Work: Tense and Point of View

It’s me again! Last time I talked about dialogue tags (and how to make them better in your own work), and today I’m going to talk a little bit about tense and point of view.

To me, tense and point of view are linked inside the greater umbrella of voice or ambience of a story. It will flavor how people read your work, and is one of the harder things to go back and edit if you decide you’ve written in the wrong tense/point of view. (Those of you who have done this, I feel your pain.) They are also silent players, helping to shape your story by providing a framework to work within.

A lot of new writers, I’ve noticed, have trouble with tense and point of view. Hopefully I can clear up a few issues.

Continue reading

The Flexibility of Outlining

A color-coded, cross-referenced story outline.

A massively detailed outline. It *ahem* may or may not be color-coded and cross-referenced.

I’ve done… er… a few blog posts on outlining in my time, to put it mildly. (I’ll link them all at the end of this post.)

If you’re new to the writing scene, let me warn you now: you are going to hear a lot about why outlines are bad, or why outlines will solve all your problems, or why if you’re doing anything other than writing the actual story, you’re wasting your time.

Ignore all that.

If you’re an outliner by nature, you’ll figure it out pretty quickly. Your stories will likely wander otherwise, and there won’t be a visible plot in your story if you just ‘wing it’, even if you started with a specific plot in mind.

But outlining your story does not mean that you’ve lost all chances of improvisation, or letting your characters ‘come to life’.

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Editing Your Work: Dialogue Tags

Hey! You’ve written a novel! Fantastic! Have you thought about editing?

I’m not sure how many people know this, but I actually edit more than I write. I primarily edit first/early drafts of new writers (and I do quite a bit of beta-reading for fanfiction). I love writing, but many (many) times I find myself enjoying editing more. I love helping people make their stories better, helping their craft so they can really connect with their readers. It’s absolutely amazing to me.

So anyway, this post is going to introduce some of the things I have noticed that many new writers seem to struggle with. (I’ll discuss more topics in later posts.) Even if you aren’t a new writer, a refresher course couldn’t hurt, right?

First up, dialogue tags.

Continue reading

Choosing the Best Opening Scene for Your Story

O is for Opening Scene...

O is for Opening Scene…

How important is it, really?

Starting your story in the correct moment is vital. The opening scene is going to determine whether or not people keep reading, and if you don’t get their attention and focus right away, they’re going to put the story down. (Whether ‘it’ happens to be fan fiction, flash fiction, a short story, or a novel.)

But how do you know what the correct moment is? Don’t you need to introduce characters, and set-up the world, and the plot?

There’s a simple way to know what the correct moment is – and as for the other questions… yes, and no.

Continue reading