To-Read: Part 2 || Topic: Creative Writing


Today I’m posting Part 2 of my To-Read list of creative writing books. I’m still so excited to have found so many wonderful books from the library and I can’t wait to read them all. (I shall try to pull together my to-read list of fictional books soon). Check out Part 1 here if you missed it!

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20 Master Plots and How to Build Them by Ronald B. Tobias. I’ve read several chapters in this already and it has completely changed how I look at plots! The book is focused how to write classic plots successfully; such master plots include Action, Quest, Rescue, Love and Underdog! I will definitely be returning to this book in the future since it’s been great so far. Highly recommended!

Advice to Writers: A Compendium of Quotes, Anecdotes, and Writerly Wisdom From a Dazzling Array of Literary Lights complied and edited by Jon Winokur. This book is all advice that look like quotes or foturne cookies, organized under categories like Characters, Dialogue, Genres, Money, Reading ect. I’ve skimmed the book and it’s neat; different advice from different people will often contradict each other, which is pretty funny, haha. This is another book I wish I could underline with pen or set on fire with highlighter ink!

A Writer’s Book of Days: A Spirited Companion & Lively Muse for the Writing Life by Judy Reeves. This is one of those “use for the entire year” books–and I think those books are really neat! This book is wide and flat, covers each month, and discusses different aspects of writing with a tiny writing prompt for each day. I really wouldn’t mind going through this book one year in the future!

Getting the Words Right: 39 Ways to Improve Your Writing by Theodore A. Rees Cheney. This one definitely looks deeper then just your regular “creative writing” book, especially since the author is an editor. The author zeros in on 39 specific subjects to talk about, such as keeping a unified tone throughout your story, when to delete a chapter, and how to use figurative speech. Definitely excited to read this one and apply its advice on my current story!

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How to Write Your Life Story in Ten Easy Steps by Sophie King. (This isn’t really on creative writing, but I got so excited about it that I have to include it. XD ) I’ll DEFINITELY be using this book as a guide to capturing my life on paper later in the future. It’s full of suggestions on how to remember things and recount them well. I’m so glad this book exists; simply looking through it made autobiography-writing feel easier–I highly recommend this to those wanting to write about their life!

Thinking Write: The Secret to Freeing Your Creative Mind by Kelly L. Stone. This one looks kinda neat as it has more of a relaxation/meditation approach to discovering creativity. I’ve really not seen another creative writing book like it. This one definitely has me intrigued to see what it has to say!

Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: Let Verbs Power Your Writing by Constance Hale. This book is pretty thick with smaller text, so it looks rather daunting to me. However, it’s also full of examples and verbs that look really helpful. And I love verbs. So. I’ll give it a try. 😀

Where Do You Get Your Ideas? A Writer’s Guide to Transforming Notions Into Narratives by Fred White. First off, I grabbed this book because of the cover; vintage, personalitiy, and turquoise, lol. This book looks pretty neat, as it guides you through the story’s idea, plotting on paper, and then writing the first draft. As a panster who could use help with actual plotting before writing, this could be a good read that I’ll definitely give it a go.

Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron. I love this idea for a writing book. Readers use their brains to read but how does the brain work and how can we take advantage of it to get them sucked into our story? Before I publish, I hope to read through this book and use what I can in my story. I love psychology anyway, so understanding a bit more in the world of my craft would be fantastic!

Are there any books on creative writing that I should read? Please recommend one in the comments!

~Jamie

The Authorly Bucket List


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Well, I’m going to list a few authorly things I’m not that good at doing, and then I’m going to list a few things I’d like to try in the future. I’m suppose to keep it to about three to seven things each. 😀

Things I’m Not Very Good At:

1. PACING. This is my number one problem as far as I’m concerned–my last book was meant to span years, and it ended up spanning a week and a half. For 60,000 words. *headdesk.* I promise I’m working on it.

2. Romance. A decent romance is hard for me to write. I’ve tried and it’s always come out extremely obvious and annoying. Although I’m picking up some stuff from anime, I don’t know if I could imitate it in my writing very well yet. (This is why I’m avoiding using  romance in any of my current books.)

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3. First person POV. I’ve almost always written in third person, where I can jump into any character’s head for a second before moving to someone else… I’m not sure what you call that in authorly terms. So, I need more practice in writing from the view-point of one sole character. (Thankfully, I have some practice from all this blogging, so it’s not a completely foreign feeling. 😀 )

4. Plot threads. I’m always dropping plot threads, and that’s because I don’t “plot” very well. *headdesk*

5. Complete Endings. I’ve completed books, but I’m not often happy with how they end. I need to learn how to wrap everything together and create a cohesive ending that doesn’t rely on a sequel soon to follow.

Things I Want to Try:

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A. A memoir/self-help book. Not to be written now, but some day.

B. I’d like to tell a story from an animal’s perspective. I read several stories from this perspective when I was twelve and it’s stuck with me ever since (and why aren’t there more stories like Black Beauty?!)

C. I’d love to write a good old-fashioned chick flick–you know, girl friends, gossip, coffee houses, scandal, musician boyfriends, tears, secrets, the works! I’ve never written one before so I think it would be great fun. XD

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D. I want to write a historical supernatural mystery set in gas lamp England. I actually already have a plot: it will follow a band of professional crooks who become indebted to a mysterious foreign upperclassman–not telling other details yet. 😛 However, this story feels very vivid to me, so I can’t wait to write it!

E. Pirates. Oceans. Maps. Gold. Sword fights … Pirates.

F. I want to write something in the Slipstream genre. Weird is my middle name, after all… or at least I desperately want it to be. I think it’d be a great challenge to master on day.

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Other genres I’d love to attempt flexing my muscles in include Gothic Romance, a Cozy Mystery (makes me think of Miss Marple!) lots and lots more horror (happy to say I’ve already written a Zombie novel,) Steampunk combined with another genre still un-chosen, and Urban Fantasy among many other genres.

If you’d like to explore different genres and subgenres, check out this genre map I discovered while creating this post. It’s super cool–I spent an hour perusing and looking up book recommendations!

This writer’s tag was happily stolen with zero regret for the sheer fun of doing it. If you would like do this tag on your own blog, please help yourself immediately! 🙂

~Jamie

Regrets


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Regrets are an odd thing, because people end up regretting a lot of things in their life and then they often end up regretting all the time they spent regretting. Go figure. I deal with regret like everyone else, and I’ve processed a lot of it very recently.

For context: my laptop hard drive recently crashed for unknown reasons, and I lost a 60,000 word novel I’d recently written (among other things.) As any fellow writer will know, this is pure devastation anyway, but that particular book was very personal and meant to be written only once. I’ve really regretted loosing that book.

However, through the last two weeks I’ve worked through the emotion called regret and I want to share how I handled it with you today.

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And of course before I move forward I want to say this: feeling regret is not a bad thing.

Regret is a legitimate emotion that signals to your soul that there is something to be mourned, forgiven, learned from and released as best you can. Everyone deals with regret in their own time and way; so it’s important to know that the emotion itself is not bad. Now, choosing to live in regret for weeks, months, or years is when regret becomes bad. 

How I Deal With Regret

Mourn your losses. I’ve learned that when I feel regret, or any type of sadness, to not smother the feeling. I don’t think causing humongous scenes wherever you go is good, but with family or friends, it’s okay to talk out your sadness and cry if you can. Crying allows the negative emotion of anxiety to escape the body and soul–it’s natural, it’s cleansing, and it’s healthy.

The evening I was told my hard drive was gone, I cried for hours in my room and was very sad for the rest of the night; the guilt and pain dwindled by morning enough for me to work like normal. I don’t care what type of regrets you have–relationships, words, preventable issues or things that weren’t even your fault–if you lose something, mourn it until you feel some relief.

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Forgive yourself. Make room for mistakes in your life by forgiving yourself (or whomever might need to be forgiven, if you have regrets over a broken relationship of any sort.) I was still very mad at myself for not backing up my work, or emailing it to my sister, even after all my crying. After several days of frustration, I finally said, “That was a mistake on my part, that I now recognize and can fix.”

If I can’t make room for mistakes in my life, how will I ever grow as a person?

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You can’t change the past. I believe God uses “cause and effect” to guide lives to touch other lives that touch other lives in ways we don’t even understand. Things happen for a reason and things happen in the past, where we can’t touch them. What happened, has happened; now I gotta deal with it. Look at it however you want, but regretting the past does not fix the problem, or the heartache, or make you feel better.

Loosing my book was devastating and agonizing but it happened. Am I now going to just sit here and be resentful? What good would that do me to regret something that can’t be reversed? From what I see, this where a lot of people get stuck; they want to change what can’t be undone, while neglecting the future. That’s very sad and it’s a cycle that will continue unless one faces the front again.

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Don’t live in regret, but do learn from it. The thing about the past is that it’s what you do in the present. So, take regret as signal that something went wrong last time and learn from it. You messed up in that relationship by doing this and such. Well, now you know what not to do now. You should have turned left instead of right. Well, now you know what to do now. I lost my book because I was not proactive and should have saved it on a USB and a secondary hard drive. Well, now I know what to do now.

We need to stop looking out the back window and face the oncoming road. Grip that steering wheel with both hands.

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Try to find positives; the “if it hadn’t”s. Finding the good in the bad is the key putting regret to sleep–this ties in a bit with the point I made just above. Sometimes its really hard to look at regrets and find positive things, but they’re always at least one. If you can’t find one, that means it’s coming. You will see it one day.

I should have saved my story as soon as it was finished but now I know I should do that from now on: a positive thing! Thank God the laptop was under warranty; a positive. Most of my stuff was saved; a positive. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

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This is not a cure-all, “gone forever” way for getting rid of Mr. Regret, sadly. I’ve gotten through these steps personally, and I still feel regret over my story, in small ways, every once and while. But if we forgot our regrets, we would simply make the same mistake over and over.

Besides, there will always be something to regret in our lives. We are humans who make mistakes, after all. Once we figure out one area of life, another area will soon fall apart and we’ll have to deal with that problem. Again.

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But please, don’t live in regret forever. You don’t want to regret that either.

~Jamie

The Art of Characters (a link up)


So, today I’m linking up with Victoria at Stori Tori’s Blog and her link up The Art of Characters. TheArtofCharactersButtonWithText2“This link-up focuses on your characters from the outside and how your character’s description can tell a lot about your character. I’m hoping this will not only help pure writers, but also writers/artists to draw their characters more.”

This is a fantastic idea and something I should ponder on more (this month’s focus was supposed to be on couples because of Valentine’s but I failed to see how to make that work, so I’m not doing that part.) I’ll be using my new main character (still going with the temporary name Zoe) to fill this out; I’m curious to my own answers. XD

(I do not have any images my character.)

1.) What does your character’s eye, skin, and hair color tell about him/her? Within the world of Immersed, a Multi-Player Fantasy Role-Playing Virtual Reality Game, my main character, after nearly choosing the human race, chooses to play in the avatar of a demon. (Demons have purple skin with unique black patterned splotches and black hair, along with a tail and cloven feet. No horns.) Zoe think she’s being unique by choosing an avatar that’s not human, but she’s not as original as she thinks she is.  I have not really decided on Zoe’s features outside the game–she is only described as her avatar.

2.) What does your character’s hairstyle tell about him/her? Zoe’s female demon avatar has black full hair that reaches past her shoulders. When she first enters the game, she wears it loose but as she becomes serious about dungeon crawling, she pulls it back (or will wear it under a helmet.) I haven’t put too much thought into anything beyond that.

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3.) What does your character’s default outfit tell about him/her? I actually haven’t created Zoe’s default outfit yet, she’s still in the basic garb of a new player. However, since she can and will be able to buy herself armor, charms, and an identifying outfit, I’ll be able to bring out her personality more. What I currently know about her is that while she’s not a genius, she does know common sense and that will show with the clothing she chooses.

4.) Does he/she have an object(s) he/she carries around a lot? She has a trademark tiny dagger that delivers more harm against monsters than it’s meant to and she carries a small trinket with her as a good luck charm, even though it’s not technically a “charm” from the game’s data base. It was given to her by a merchant on her first day within Immersed.

5.) Does he/she have any particular scars or birthmarks? Generally, once healed, avatars don’t keep scars from previous battles. However, on Zoe’s real body, she has a small scar on her thumb where a rose thorn stabbed her when she was 14.

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6.) Does he/she have any piercings or tattoos? In both reality and virtual reality, she has pierced ears. You can get tattoos in the game, but she does not have any.

7.) How does he/she carry themselves? Shoulders back? Eye contact? Eyes down? Slumped shoulders? Zoe is about eighteen (Can you believe I have not pegged down an official age and name for a main character yet?!) so she sees herself at prime of her youth; she has bright eyes, straight shoulders and a quirk of curiosity to her step.

8.) What is his/her default expression? Smiling? Frowning? Solemn? She has an inquisitive, curious facial expression. She’s not completely trusting of everyone she meets or sees, but she’s intrigued about virtual reality, and her curiosity comes across through her face.

9.) Does he/she wear make-up or face paint? She does not wear either in virtual reality, but in her real life she sometimes wears mascara and lip gloss.

I like the snake-ish helmet here...
I like the snake-ish helmet here…

10.) Does his/her physical appearance change at any time? For example: If they have a power do their eyes glow or hair turn blue? When she executes magic that is only used by the demon race, her eyes flash a soft blue gleam. However, her body doesn’t really react to other magical powers or skills–at least, not that I have developed, but this is something I should come up for other characters.

Bonus: Does the character change his/her appearance to impress the love interest? Currently, I’m not planning on giving Zoe a love interest. I choose this because I think fantasy and sci-fi books use the “in love” symptom between the female lead and a male presence too often as motivation or tension, and I want to try something completely different!

I really appreciated this link up, it’s definitely given me a better idea of my character and different aspects of her two lives that I can use throughout the story! Thanks for reading! 🙂

~Jamie

To-Read: Part 1 || Topic: Creative Writing


I haven’t done a list in a while, so I thought I might as well blog this year’s To-Read lists. XD Currently, I have each of these books borrowed from the library and am peeking into each of them–so this list is something of an impressions post. I think it would be handy to record my thoughts on them, since I won’t be able to read them all at once.

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Bullies Bast#rds & B#tches: How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction by Jessica Page Morrell. This looks like a good read, with certain chapters covering the different types of villains. While I think I need more help writing compelling, realistic heroes (more practice, is more like it,) it never hurts to learn more on the baddie topic. They can also be tougher to write.

Crafting Novels & Short Stories from the editors of the Writer’s Digest. THIS book looks like one I might personally buy just so I can underline and dog tag pages. Just from the Getting Started intro I wanted to mark up a dozen different lines. It looks sharp, smart, and to-the-point. Definitely high at the top of the list to read!

Pep Talks, Warnings & Screeds: Indispensable Wisdom and Cautionary Advice for Writers by George Singleton. This one looks awesome. Everything is in short paragraphs which are quick to read and to-the-point. Some of them are like fortune cookies–I like honest writing advice in this format. There are also cute pictures dashed in too. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one became a “want-to-buy” as well.

The Daily Writer: 366 Meditations to Cultivate a Productive and Meaningful Writing Life by Fred White. I’ve actually borrowed this about four years ago so it feels pretty new to me, lol. There’s a page for each day with a prompt at the bottom. I love the cover and the layout and the diverse topics for reading. Another possible “must buy”.

The Pocket Muse and The Pocket Muse: Endless Inspiration by Monica Wood. I LOVE. THESE. BOOKS. Their pretty small but are bursting with inspiration. Between each cover they’re filled with images and prompts set up in unique ways to inspire a creative spark! I own “Endless Inspiration” but I think I’ll need to get the rest of the series too! (Not pictured.)

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Writing: A User Manual by David Hewson. Already sent this one back, but I think once I get through some of the others I’ll come back to it…looked a little like dull reading, but who knows for sure. XD

Word Hero: A Fiendishly Clever Guide to Crafting the Lines that get Laughs, go Viral and Live Forever by Jay Heinrichs. Full of colorful words that aren’t too ridiculous, this book is exactly as it says it is: how to use words in a memorable way! I look forward to reading through this one to widen my vocabulary and use those words well! I have high hopes for this one!

Writing Monsters: How to Craft Believably Terrifying Creatures to Enhance Your Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction by Philip Athans. I’ve read the foreword, intro, and the first chapter, and the author seems to have a great perspective of what exactly a monster is or can be, so I have very high hopes for this book. I love that in the beginning there’s a section for filling out details for your monster, immediately equipping me as a writer! This book looks fantastic, and I’ll be reading through this one first as I need monster ideas and tips for my video game novel.

Write Starts: Prompts, Quotes and Exercises to Jumpstart Your Creativity by Hal Zina Bennett. I actually own this one already, I ordered it on Amazon to reach the free shipping level, lol. More short chapters with neat exercises and prompts! I hope to get some good creativity spurts out of this one!

Writing 21st Century Fiction: High Impact Techniques For exceptional Storytelling by Donald Maass. The title itself made me pull it off the shelf. Sometimes certain how-to-write/publish books are becoming dated as the style of storytelling changes, so I like to find a book that’s aware of the times. Hopefully it will be worth the time to peruse through the pages.

That’s the end of part 1 (yes, I have a second stack of books just from the creative writing section.) Have any of you read/used books on writing, prompts or publishing that were helpful? If you do/don’t read these types of books, why or why not?

~Jamie