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

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

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.

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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.

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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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Chuck Wendig, Eat Your Heart Out

W is for WENDIG.

W is for WENDIG.

(You know? That’s a really weird phrase. “Eat your heart out”? I can’t seem to stop staring at it.)

Anyway, today I’m going to talk about Chuck Wendig and his fabulous, glorious blog. I’ve followed him for a little over a year now, and I’ve learned a lot from him. Not just about writing, either. So, in true Wendigian (Wendigese?) fashion, I will be doing:

The Top 5 Reasons You Should Read Chuck Wendig’s Blog.

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Representation Issues

R is for Representation

R is for Representation

Going in line with my earlier posts about consent is another issue that’s becoming important to me. Representation.

This one is a stickier subject–especially for writers. It’s one thing to rally up and say we need more X representation, but knowing how to go about achieving that can come with some difficulties.

So many of our stories are about straight, white men. We see them everywhere–in movies, on TV, in our books. Recently on the literature front, we’ve seen an influx of leading ladies, which is good. It’s a fantastic start.

But so few of our stories have anything besides straight, white people. If we look around us, anyone can see that the world is filled with a plethora of different people, of all genders, skin colors and ethnicities, sexual orientation, and religions. Where are their stories? Why is it always the same person appearing over and over again on our screens and in our books?

Well, honestly, I don’t know the answer to that question. I possibly don’t want to know.

What I do know, though, is I think this is a terrible disservice to the actual world we live in. Continue reading

H is for Hangover (From Writing)

H is for Hangover

H is for Hangover

It’s taken me a while to learn this about myself, but I am apparently just not one of those writers that can sit down and pour out a story onto paper until it’s done. Some people can, and that’s awesome. I, however, am just never going to be one of those people.

You see, I can write about 1,000-1,500 words with no problem. A couple of fits and false starts, sure, but eventually my writing will smooth out and I’ll get into the groove of it.

However, invariably, as I pass the 2,000 mark, things start to go a little awry. I’ll start to get physically tired. My mind starts losing focus, wanting to go on and work on other things, like catching up on my missed Supernatural episodes. Usually, this is the point where I give in to my distractions, having achieved a healthy word count for the day.

Sometimes though, (like during NaNoWriMo), I’ll push through. I’ll make myself write another 2,000 words. Or another 3,000 or 4,000. I can push myself up into a 7,000 word count day, and most of those words are good, usable.

The next day? I am nearly physically ill. I’m exhausted. I’m cranky. I don’t even want to hear the word “writing.” If I try to write, I get out 100, maybe 200 words, tops. And a lot of the time, those words are crap and all need to be cut out later.

It finally dawned on me–you can get a writing hangover.

Because I pushed myself so much in one day, trying to crank out word after word, the next day left my creative coffers nearly empty. My muse was dehydrated and craving electrolytes, as it were. I had a hangover from writing.

And just like binge drinking will cause a massive, day-ruining hangover, I’ve learned that binge writing can, too. And frankly, neither kind of hangover is very fun.

So I’ve learned I’m just not built to be the kind of writer that can sit and write 10,000, 15,000, 20,000 words until the story is done. Not without a major price to pay the next morning. I’ve learned to pace myself, and be okay with my 1,500 words days.

So what about you? Have you ever experienced a hangover from writing too much?

– Eris


Consent and You! Why It’s Important to Think About Consent in Your Writing

CToday, we’re going to talk about consent.

Consent has quickly become one of my most touchy, push-button subjects. I find myself constantly analyzing media (especially television shows and movies, but books as well) for how consent is portrayed. More often than not, it is shown very poorly, as Hank Green of the Vlogbrothers talks about. 

Hollywood’s representation of consent is so poor that they barely bring it up at all. Nearly everything I watch has at least one character that has things done to them without any sort of nod to that character’s understanding or wish of that treatment. Think of all the times you watched a love scene where the man walks in, grabs the woman by the face or jaw, and starts to kiss her. Think about those scenes where a man picks up the woman and carries her off, completely ignoring her protests. Think about what that means in terms of consent.

Now think about how the directors and filmmakers and actors want you, the audience, to feel. Like these actions are romantic and emotional. Like it’s normal for the man to do what he wants with a woman, no matter what she says or doesn’t say. I mean, she wants it anyway, right?

How do we really know that?

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