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#writing life
writingdotcoffee · 2 days ago
You can’t write unless you read.
David Sedaris
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writing narrative foils
[@/moonit_sunflower_books on ig]
elias veturius and helene aquila invented narrative foils in this essay i will-
hey y'all! today we're going to be talking about narrative foils and why they're such an awesome literary technique + how to use them when you write. most of this knowledge is from english class last year combined with my own experience reading and writing. i hope this helps!
disclaimer: i am not a professional writer, just a student who writes for fun, and everything here is a combination of research and experience. i'm always open to debate and/or constructive criticism!
what are foils? why use them?
narrative foils are essentially two characters that have contrasting personalities and values. when a character and their foil are in close proximity, it makes the characters' contrasting personalities and attributes. essentially, it makes the differences between the two characters stark and makes them seem more dramatic.
foil v/s antagonist
an antagonist is someone working directly against the protagonist, who tries to hinder the protagonist's progress and ultimately propels the plot forwards. a foil, on the other hand, exists purely to emphasise the protagonist's character traits. they don't necessarily provide more conflict or opposition.
how to use foils
one of the main ways in which foils are used is to show the different paths that characters can take. for example, in an ember in the ashes, elias chooses to run from blackcliff while helene remains to serve the emperor - the two paths they take are direct contrasts and show the different futures that someone from blackcliff could possibly have.
foils are also used to show different choices that characters make. in the musical hamilton, the songs "my shot" and "wait for it" are direct contrasts to each other. in the former, hamilton talks about how he will go looking for opportunity and not pass any up, while burr talks about how he will wait for his time to come and not make stupid rash decisions.
coming up with foil characters
like any trait, the fact that the character is a foil should not be their entire personality. the fact that draco and harry* are foils isn't their entire personalities - they each have their own unique motivation and subplot as well, but the fact that they contradict each other gives their characters more depth.
also, don't contrast every single character trait. for example, if your protagonist is loyal, confident, and naive, don't necessarily make your antagonist untrustworthy, cowardly, and sceptical. choose the traits that serve the story the best and emphasise those!
*i do not support jk rowling in any way, i'm just using her characters as examples
examples of foil characters
elias veturius and helene aquila from an ember in the ashes
romeo and mercutio from romeo and juliet
harry potter and draco malfoy from harry potter
sherlock holmes and john watson from sherlock
mr darcy and mr wickham from pride and prejudice
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sparkles-and-hens · 6 months ago
On Writing for Yourself and Not for Notes
AKA How to Enjoy Writing for the Sake of it
Get off social media! I know it’s tempting to blabber on about a WIP to get those hella cool notes, but doing so only reinforces that writing’s only fun if it gets you attention. We all need that boost now and again, but too much of it will whittle away your self-reliance. Close your laptop, leave your phone in a different room, and sit down with a notebook if possible and if you need to. You’ll get to know what enthralls you personally about your story.
Don’t write for an audience for now. Tumblr likes to do this thing where it says “blah blah blah X is problematic in media” and while it’s well-intentioned, internalizing too much of this can make you feel like you’re trying to write through a maze and constantly failing at it. Forget about your audience–you can flag and catch problematic stuff in edits after tossing it to the betas.
Remember what made thirteen-year-old you lose their mind? Yeah, write that. Once you’ve let go of writing for an audience, you won’t worry about being “cringey” anymore, and that’s when things start to get real good and real fun. You don’t have to show your writing to anyone, or even tell them you wrote it, so just go buckwild! Trust me, it’s so liberating.
Your inner critic is useful–but not now. Shut that bitch up! Your job when drafting is to make something. If you did that, you win, so your critic’s opinion is worth squat here. However, if you try to fight her {I always envision mine as some bitchy middle-aged woman lol} she’s just gonna get louder. So tell yourself you can be as critical of your writing as you want during edits. You’re not working for perfect, or even good right now. You’re working for existing.
Remember that this is a process. Companies like tumblr are investing a BUNCH of cash into getting you to stay glued to their platforms, and if you’re a creator this might manifest in your feeling like you need to live your creative life online. You don’t. But retraining your brain isn’t easy. Remember that divorcing yourself from the validation of online noise takes work and time and a lot of discomfort and redirecting, especially for folks like me who thrive on routine. And don’t discipline. Redirect. Negativity has no right to be in your creative space ♥️
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thewriterswitch · 9 months ago
My writer brain: Write something
Me: Which wip?
My writer brain: None of them.
Me: Do you have a new wip idea?
My writer brain: No
Me: Then what am I supposed to write?
My writer brain: Write something
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writerforfun · 10 days ago
Literary Devices Similar to Foreshadowing
There are a number of literary techniques and practices that have some overlap with foreshadowing. Here are a few to keep in mind.
Chekhov’s gun: is a writing best practice often confused with foreshadowing. Russian playwright Anton Chekhov famously said, “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off.” The refers to the idea that every element in a story should contribute to the whole, and that every detail that “sets up” an outcome should “pay off” in some way. In the example of Chekhov’s gun, that could mean one character shooting another, but an author may also choose to defy that expectation—say, by filling the gun with blanks.
Red herring: Unlike foreshadowing, which is designed to hint at something that will happen in your story, a red herring is a literary device that is designed to mislead the reader, distracting them from the eventual twist. Red herrings are often used in mystery novels, with characters suspected of a crime turning out innocent. (Learn more about red herrings here.)
Flashforward: The opposite of a flashback, a flash forward (also known as flash-forward or prolepsis) brings your reader forward in time for a glimpse at the future. This is different from foreshadowing, as you’re explicitly showing your readers what is to come. Stories that employ flash forwards derive their suspense not from readers wondering what will happen, but rather how it will happen.
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dresupi · a year ago
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meg-moira · 5 months ago
When I was little, a family friend caught me staring up at a tree, utterly enraptured. They asked if I liked climbing trees, and I said yes, because it was simpler than explaining I’d gotten caught up imagining an entire world of colossal trees which held whole societies within their branches.
For the record, I did not like climbing trees.
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ninjakitten1699 · 6 months ago
That reminds me. Do you fall in love with obsessive villains because you think you’re so unnoticeable that the idea of someone ripping the entire world apart for you seems amazing?
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aye-write · 9 months ago
Someone: You can’t just abandon the main story to write angst-ridden fluff and a bonding subplot!
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writingdotcoffee · a day ago
The scariest moment is always just before you start.
Stephen King
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moonlit-sunflower-books · 5 months ago
writing should be fun.
make oc playlists. spend hours on moodboards that have no purpose. write self-indulgent fluff that’s never going to be published. scribble three lines of poetry in the back of your history notebook. draw fanart of your own characters. write stupid dialogue that your publishers might hate. start new wips that you might never finish but write those three chapters that make you happy because if you don’t write them, who else will?
writing shouldn’t always be about “will publishers like this” or “i have to reach this word count” or “how do i get the most likes”.
have fun with your writing.
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lupinblack · a year ago
Writing chapter 1: beautiful description of the scenery and the feel of the setting, detailed character introduction, slowly fleshing out the plot, describing character emotions thoroughly
Writing chapter 20: idk he was in his room feeling fucking sad I guess? Frowning. He was frowning. Yeah.
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writing-with-olive · a year ago
Quick writing tip:
If you’re staring at the lone word “the” on your doc and nothing’s coming to you, delete it.
The word “the” is very difficult to start a story off of. It doesn’t really inspire much. Instead, write the name of your main character, or, if you’re going with first person, start the story with “I.” Then follow it with a verb. Any verb.
And just like that, you’re talking about someone doing something. Yes, it’s only two words, but you can actually do something with them. You can get somewhere.
Why is that character wincing?
Where is xe walking to?
What is causing xir to tremble?
How is xe flying?
If you discover that your story does need to start with the word “the’ later on, then that’s totally cool. What matters when you’re creating content is that you create. Then fix. You can’t fix what doesn’t yet exist.
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writerforfun · 2 months ago
8 Rules for Writing Fiction: Tips to Guide Your Writing Process
Protect your writing process. Every single writer will tell you how important it is to stay organized and devoted to your daily work—this will help you get through the rough patches you’re likely to encounter. It can be extremely difficult to get published, and rejection is the norm for most writers. Coping with it will require a balance. You’ll need humility to accept that your work can improve, but you’ll also need a blazing confidence that will allow your creative inspiration to continue flowing.
Find your space. Some authors like to carve out intensely personal space. Authors need to write, no matter the distractions: Jane Austen wrote in a busy family parlor, E.B. White wrote in his crowded living room. Ernest Hemingway and Kurt Vonnegu all worked in the early mornings to limit distractions. Maya Angelou famously rented hotel rooms to get away from daily nuisances. Try to find a space that works for you. It should be free of distractions (a definition that will depend upon your tolerance level) and provide a source of inspiration to you.
Make your writing flow. Some authors are sticklers for the placement of apostrophes, others swear by modern, free-form structure. Regardless of which you align with, your writing should still flow well and be easy to understand. Cut out any superfluous adjectives and adverbs (a likely result of an overly enthusiastic dive into the thesaurus in search of just the right word) and try to eliminate passive voice in favor of active voice. Make your writing more active by looking carefully at your word choices, getting rid of generic words and clichés, and choosing concise phrasing.
Experiment with narrative point of view. Point of view is the “eye” through which you’re telling a story. Most novels are written in one of two styles: First person, which involves a narrator who tells their story. (“I ran toward the gate.”) Or third person, which is the author telling a story about a character. (“He woke up that morning.”) While first person narration can provide intimacy, it is also limited by the perceptive abilities of the character. This can be useful when creating an unreliable narrator or when creating red herrings. Third person narration is a more flexible choice. It allows you to switch between characters’ points of view. You can even zoom in and out from complete omniscience (a narrative voice that has access to all information in the novel) to what’s called a limited or “close” third point of view (a narrative that adheres to a single character).
Believe there’s no such thing as writer’s block. Writer’s block is often an overwhelming feeling of being stuck. You’ve written part of a novel, maybe you’ve even finished an outline, but you just can’t move forward. Every time you sit down at your desk, your mind goes blank, or you can’t decide what to do next. This experience is common among writers, and there are ample tools for working through it. Take a break from the work, do something else for a while, and return a few days (or week, or months) later to view your draft with a fresh eye. The most important rule is to keep moving, whatever that means for you.
Focus on character development. Character and event are inseparable—a person is defined by the series of events that happen to them. In a novel, a character interacts with events over time. Your job as a writer is to learn about your main character by observing how they interact with the world around them. Characters—like real people—have hobbies, pets, histories, ruminations, and obsessions. They have a backstory. It’s essential to whatever you’re writing that you understand these aspects of your character so that you are equipped to understand how they may react under the pressures of events they encounter. Ideally, your characters will be distinct enough to be memorable, but for all those minor characters who are emerging in your novel, it’s good practice to provide hints that will help the reader distinguish who each character is, so they can remember their various story arcs.
Find balance in the types of sentences you use. In all writing, there are two types of narration: scene and dramatic narration. In scene, you show the characters performing an action or having a conversation. This tends to speed up the pacing. In dramatic narration, you simply tell the reader what the characters did, but the event remains “offstage.” This type of narration can slow the story down. To keep pacing from feeling monotonous, it’s a good idea to vary the two modes of writing. For some writers, that means breaking up long flowing sentences with sentence fragments on a paragraph-to-paragraph level, while others switch tones between chapters.
Get your story down on paper. Focus on getting through your first draft from start to finish, and remember that you can always go back and change things later. If novel-writing feels too intimidating, try writing a short story instead. (Though short stories can be deceivingly more difficult to write than novels since they require a concise and extremely economical narrative containing all the elements of a novel—in a fraction of the space.) You can begin with the first chapter, or you can use an outline—you can choose to approach your story in any order that feels right for you. You will inevitably make changes to your original plan along the way, and this is a good thing. If tracking your word count feels empowering, set up daily goals. If you prefer to let your words of prose flow in a self-determined fashion, be kind to yourself and respect whatever output comes.
Article source: here
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mollyringle · 7 months ago
Don’t give up, writers!...But don’t expect fame either.
On Twitter recently there was a hashtag that got going in which successful authors encouraged struggling writers to keep at it, because it took them (the successful ones) X number of years and manuscripts and rejections before they Hit It Big. And now they’re on bestseller lists! And have Netflix deals! And fan art! So don’t give up!
Normally you can count on me to be the encouraging optimist too. But in this case I feel the kinder thing to do, in the long run, is to deliver an opposing viewpoint consisting mainly of, well, I won’t say “pessimism,” but more like realistically tempered expectations.
I’ve been writing books since I was 12. (I’m now 45.) Counting just the published ones, I’ve had 12 novels or novellas published, with two excellent small presses. I have never hit a bestseller list. I have never been offered a screen adaptation deal. I am not getting fan art or fan fiction, and hardly ever fan mail. I’ve never in all these years had a royalty check big enough to cover more than one month of the mortgage. (And keep in mind royalties are paid once every three months.)
I’m now taking work as an editor/proofreader, not only because I like the work (which luckily I do), but because writing is clearly not going to bring in enough money for me to stick exclusively to that as my career. 33 years of fiction-writing experience and 12 published books is evidently not enough for me to Hit It Big, and I’ve given up on expecting it ever will.
I’m not giving up on writing, mind you. What I’m letting go of is this “work hard, work so damn hard, write every day even if you don’t want to, GET THOSE BOOKS OUT THERE” mentality. The best part of writing is the writing itself, when I am writing something I love and immersing myself in that world. So I’ll write what I love, only when I truly want to write it, and I’ll relax about the timeline. Because whatever I’m writing is probably never going to be The Next Big Fandom anyway.
You, or I, could easily look at all of the above and conclude, “Well, Molly’s writing must suck, because otherwise it WOULD have hit it big by now.” Maybe? Maybe not? Its quality is subjective. What’s true is that I worked every bit as hard as they tell you to, and it wasn’t enough. And of the many writers I know, the overwhelming majority are in the same dowdy boat as me. Very few are cruising in the yacht of the Netflix deals.
Success is not entirely merit-based, either, as you will know if you think for a few seconds about some of the books that are wildly popular. Or some of the books that deserve to be but aren’t. It’s marketing, it’s connections, it’s money, it’s whatever spark of luck and magic makes something go viral. If we all knew what that was, we would do it, obviously, but it’s largely out of our control.
Even if you work hard and write beautifully, and even if you do it for years and years, you are NOT guaranteed to land on any bestseller list or become a fandom sensation. Ever. It’s much likelier you won’t, in fact.
But I am not telling you to give up! Far from it. I’m saying: the question you should be asking yourself is not, “Am I willing to work super hard at writing in order to chase that fame and financial payoff?” The question should be, “Do I love writing enough to keep doing it even if that external success never happens?”
That’s the only question whose answer you have control over. Ask yourself that one. If it’s yes, then don’t give up. Because writing is lovely when done for that reason.
Meanwhile—think about something you wouldn’t mind doing for money. Chances are all too good you’ll need it. And with that, I must return to my editing.
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sparkles-and-hens · 6 months ago
About Taking Writing Feedback
AKA how I went from terrified to show anyone my work to being able to stomach it
If two or more people say the same thing about your work, positive or negative, it’s something to pay attention to. Readers have tastes, just like writers do. If only one reader brings up something about your work that you did conscientiously for a specific purpose, it can usually be played off to ‘this just wasn’t the kind of work that structurally they enjoy and that is absolutely fine.’  Multiple critiques of the same area or those that interfere with the story’s being a cohesive whole, though, are cause for consideration. Keeping this in mind helps me from yeeting myself into “there are SO many things wrong with this” land.
It’s about improving, not boosting your ego. If you go into a critique or review hoping people will lose their minds over how awesome your work is, you will be sorely disappointed–no matter how amazing I’m sure your writing is! The point of a critique is to read critically. Reviewers and critique buddies alike are gonna be on the lookout for stuff that jerks them out of their suspension of disbelief. This goes for after publication, too.
Do it again and again and again. The more times you toss yourself off that cliff, the better you’ll be able to bounce back from it, and the more you’ll get out of that process.
Usually readers are right with grammar and style stuff. If they take offense to the way your writing reads, 9\10 times your future audience will too. In any case you should endeavor to make it as readable as possible, and if people tell you it isn’t readable, it just isn’t readable. This isn’t a dig at your given style idea, just a sign it isn’t doing its job.
Don’t talk over people. I used to do this a TON because I was uncomfy sitting in silence as people more clearly defined what was wrong in my passage. LET THEM PICK IT APART without your defending it. They’ll come to a better conclusion that way, and you’ll learn to face up to what makes you uncomfy. Basically the more you shut up the more you’ll get out of it lol. Mute yourself on the camera if you need to!
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meg-moira · 5 months ago
I was just thinking about the fact that I throw all of my random writing related thoughts into the notes app on my phone...and don’t ever erase them?? The app is just slowly morphing into this strange and chaotic library of idea brainstorms, story snippets, and half remembered dreams.
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