Visual Writing Prompt #442
I apologize for the gap in posts. I’ve had a lot on my mind lately.
I apologize for the gap in posts. I’ve had a lot on my mind lately.
What did they do to you?
Watching a two-hour video dissecting the bad writing advice of someone with severe fandom brain is not a way to deal with one’s insomnia. It won’t make you any sleepier, just angrier.
This is a great, great video offering up 8 nontraditional writing POVs for you to try in your own writing.
Me, who hasn’t touched my wip in ages: Hey maybe I’ll work on it today!
You know how people always say the best way to get into a cold pool is to just cannonball in instead of slowly walking in? The way I think about it, it should be the same for writing. Just jump right back into it—write smut, and then write more smut. And because you’re out of practice, it might not be the greatest writing in the world, but that’s okay. Give yourself the time and space to get comfortable writing it again, and your skill will come back to you.
Something you might do, since you’ve written smut in the past, is to take an old story you’ve written and just go back over it and edit it. That way, you can refamiliarize yourself with how you write smut. Or rewrite it completely if you don’t want to have to worry about what happens while you’re relearning how to write it. Use your old work as guidance and as inspiration.
Also, just read other people’s smut and take notes about what you like and don’t like about how they’ve written it. And then keep writing your own!
There are four things involved with producing your masterpiece. You need to write, edit, research and market it. I’m including plot development within research. If you’re reading this, there’s a very good chance you have the research and writing under control, the editing more or less under control and the marketing … well maybe not so much. You realize it has to be done but you also realize it might be more pleasurable to poke yourself in the eye with a sharp stick. The real question you need to ask is how much are you prepared to give of yourself in order to obtain success.
I recently encountered an individual who has one book published. He generated roughly four times as much income from that book in one month as I’ve received from publishing twelve books over a four year period. Is his book substantially better than mine? Beats me, I haven’t seen it; nevertheless, I don’t think it can be that much better. So what did he do that I’m not doing?
we get it, SJM writes tropes you don’t approve of.
neither do I.
move on. give your money and attention to people you support, share their work while they’re writing, make them confident in their writing. all of this attention to her is making young, LGBTQ+, POC writers stay in the dark.
uplift them, we already know everything about her, and we haven’t even read her books yet.
Okay so in the story I’m writing the girl who is the ex of the male but she still has feelings for him even though they are just friends, she gets drunk and she talks to the male. I need some like flirty drunk things she can say or do to him.
tropes, even when they are abused and overused, could be a good thing in a
story, if handled properly.
There is nothing wrong in having a guy walking in a room telling another person “you may want to look at this”, or someone commenting on a new food by saying “it tastes like chicken”. Sure, a reader or viewer may be wondering why they couldn’t just use different words, but, again, nothing is wrong in using them.
However, there are also some clichés that are so frequent in so many stories that may ruin it, even if what happened so far was so good and intriguing that the person consuming the story wants to know everything about it.
In my opinion, those clichés may be a result of not only avoiding to go outside the box, but also thinking “everyone uses them, so why can’t I do it?”.
Out of all those clichés, I picked four of them, analysing why they could be problematic and suggesting something different to avoid using them.
So, let’s get started!
Two characters are doing something that a third one shouldn’t be aware of, but, mother of all coincidences, that character shows up at that exact moment
This is mostly used with a romance story by having one of the characters involving in a relationship cheating on the other with someone else, but it may even pop up sometimes with two people discussing about a particular secret concerning the character that finds them.
When it happens, it feels like whoever wrote the story thought “there is no way for the third character to find out about this unless they happen to see it in front of them”.
Of course, there are situation where it’s okay for the character to show up. I mean, if the two of them do what they do nearby their house, then it is their fault that they didn’t think they’d be seen. However, this is problematic when the thing happens so far away that it just feels like blatant luck.
So, how to avoid it? You could have the third character figuring out themselves what is happening, maybe by adding 2+2 about certain things. If their partner are cheating, maybe they could see the lover wearing something similar to a piece of clothing bought by the partner.
It would be better because, in this way, the character is actually active in the plot progressing, rather than having a plot change happening in front of them at random.
The “dead mother” trope
How many stories do you know where the main character is a teenager, especially a teenage girl, and they are raised by their father alone because their mother, who was a beautiful and flawless angel, passed away when they were kids? Or, something similar: how many stories feature the protagonist’s mother being killed at the beginning? In both scenarios, the result is the same: the mother is dead.
This trope is so overdone that I struggle in even thinking about characters who have their mother alive and well, even by the middle of their journey.
It originated from fairy-tales who wanted to show the protagonists being orphans as a metaphor for moving on with their life, something that can happen once you detach yourself from your parents.
Still, it happens so often that, when the character talks about “my dead mother”, it is rare that you would think “oh, poor them”, but “of course their mother is dead”.
One of the most frustrating portions of this trope is that, if the protagonist is a girl, there will always be a scene where someone tells them “you are just like your mother”.
It is frustrating because I firmly believe the writers are avoiding using something that can potentially be good, especially in a young adult story: the protagonist talking to her mother, who tells her how much they are alike.
What to do instead of this cliché? Have a reason why the mother has to be elsewhere. Everything can work: their parents are divorced, she works in another town, the character isn’t in their home city and so on.
I suggest it because, apparently, a protagonist with both living parents is something rare.
The protagonist being skilled at something in a ridiculously short amount of time
Imagine this: the story mentions how it is important for the hero to learn a skill that it is specifically said requires years upon years of practice, but they become experts in a week or even less.
This is a typical example of plot armour in which the protagonist can do whatever they want because, well, they’re the protagonist.
It also ruins the worldbuilding of a story, because it makes you wonder “why is this skill so easy for the protagonist to learn if everybody else takes years to master it?”, ruining the suspension of disbelief because, sure, in real life, you may have people who learn something rapidly, but it is rare, and those people are usually geniuses anyway.
So, what to do to avoid the cliché? Give it a valid reason within your world as to why and how the main character learns it this quickly. Maybe, they have already practiced it before, so this final week is just them perfecting their abilities.
Or, perhaps, there is something magical behind them that lets them use the ability.
The woman in the refrigerator
This is probably one of the most annoying, frustrating and confusing clichés that exist.
Annoying because it is so common to see a female character dying to justify why a male one is angry or sad about something.
Frustrating because, too many times, the female character is written with depth and charisma, while the male one is just “urgh, my wife/sister/mother/friend died and I’m angry for this” and nothing else.
Confusing because one can’t help but wonder why does the male character need somebody else’s death to avoid being a static or flat character.
This is mostly used because writers just think that drama is the fuel to every story, so they have to kill off someone just so that this tragedy can kick off something.
However, it just begs the question: why can’t you just develop your male character in another way?
Also, there are situations where keeping the female character alive would be more beneficial for the story. For instance, instead of having the male hero’s wife being gunned down, have her be safe in their home, so that a reader or viewer would root for the hero because they have a wife to return to.
In my opinion, this is just mistaking a tragic event for depth and roundness of a character, which is a big problem.
What do to instead of putting the woman in the fridge? Just sit down and construct a character that can function on their own, rather than depending on a woman’s life.
Of course, this is simply my opinion, so feel free to disagree. If there are other clichés you think are too common, share them and let’s have a discussion.
Let’s just say
you are writing a fantasy or a science fiction word, which means their worlds
aren’t like the real one. As such, they may have their own history and events,
completely separated from ours (unless their world is actually an alternate
version of ours).
This is something a writer should constantly think about, because making a reference that leans too much to the real world can break the suspension of disbelief.
If, for instance, you have an alien living in a distant galaxy saying that something “looks Japanese”, a reader would think “wait, how do they know about Japan?”. And, if they’re the kind of reader I am, they may start wondering if that means the alien visited Japan, or maybe someone went to Earth and abducted a Japanese person, and the digression would drive them away from the story.
This is something that you should avoid with your choice of words as well. Why? Because, sometimes, the word has a history behind it that ties it to the culture and the past of our world, even if it doesn’t seem at first.
Let’s just say that you are writing a fantasy story, and, because fantasy sometimes requires a fancier vocabulary, you look for a synonym for obvious, and, when you find “Lapalissian”, you decide that it looks fancy enough, and you use it.
However, that word derives from the fact that a French poet, in talking about the death of the nobleman Jacques de la Palisse, wrote that “if he were still alive, he would still envied”, except the second part is, in French, similar enough to “he would still be alive” that this is what some understood, and, from then, “Lapalissian” was used for something obvious.
Sure, this is a detail that may go over many readers’ heads, because, for instance, there aren’t many of them that would think “wait, you use gargantuan in your story, but how can they know about Gargantua?”. Still, if you manage to showcase your attention to detail even in these scenarios, then you would come off as a writer who knows how to research and edit their stories.
The Greek historian Herodotus, when he needed to reconstruct a past event that was recent enough for him to talk about it with people that were there, used to talk to people that were in both sides of said event. For instance, if he had to write about a battle, he would interview soldiers from both armies.
He did that because he was aware on how one event may be perceived differently from different sides or cultures.
I mention this because a way for you, writer, to make your world seem realistic and believable is to have historical events be seen from different perspectives.
Your main character could come from a place where a great king once conquered and expanded his territories, bringing peace and prosperity in an otherwise dark and desolated land. However, as soon as they go to those territories, they may find people who believe that king was nothing but a genocidal maniac who slaughtered and murdered entire cultures just because he wanted to do so.
Of course, you may not want to make everything seem black or white. Those two sides may even agree on something. In the example I made, perhaps they both think the land conquered by the king looked like a sad wasteland compared to the thriving paradise everyone can see.
If done properly, this could add new layers of depth to your world, because it lets the reader wonder how are other key events seen elsewhere.
Do you have a go-to resource for a particular topic? Blog, web site, book, podcast… whatever! A favorite resource for writing about LGBTQ+ characters? A favorite resource for writing comic books or screenplays? A favorite place for information about world building, writing fantasy, or how to write about kings and queens? A book that really helped you plot your novel or create powerful descriptions?
Whatever your favorite resources are, I want to know them! Let’s get a good crowdsourced list together and I can link to it here. Feel free to reply, send by ask, or list them in a reblog!
Write anywhere and any time: on your phone, on scrap paper, on your arm, anywhere that is available to you. If you can’t write, record a message to yourself on your phone. All that matters is that you get your ideas down and make the most of your compulsion.
We all know how quickly the compulsion to write can disappear, even getting one or two sentences down can motivate you to keep going or get started. There’s nothing more intimidating that a blank page so being able to copy up a starter sentence can give you that beginning you need to make the next few thousand words feel less impossible.
Hey Sy! You’re already working on a second novel? Omg 😳 congratulations, honey! Way to go!!
Omg you’re a published writer! That’s awesome! I’m frankly stumped that you’re asking me, the serial rambler, for tips 💀
I’ll tell you what I do when I hit a blank wall.
I usually have a list of scenes that I want to write in the fic, it’s like an outline really. A skeleton that I use to build on as I go.
Whenever I feel frustrated about a scene, or whenever I don’t have the right mindset to write that particular scene, I just go through the list and find another scene.
So when I cone back to the one I started with, I’ll feel a bit satisfied. That if written something and progressed, instead of staring at a blank page. It give a boost and a fresh mindset to continue.
This probably sucks, but it’s how I try and keep myself from burning out halfway through a fic 😬I hope it helps!
And all the best for your second novel! Break a leg! ❤❤❤
so i have actually seen a lot of people who write like me (by that i mean without having a specific plot line and just working with like a few lines or a vague idea) and i remember @luvityedam mentioning something like this?
so. make scenes for your fic/chapter. for example, for the chapter 1 - i want it to cover 4 scenes. and have a vague idea about all of the scenes - like i want this this and THAT to happen.
im not sure if i actually helped or not but i have recently started working like this and i usually can. so all i have to tell myself is that “1 scene done, 3 more to go for this chapter to end.” and its motivating me. i can also make a guess about my progress - so like if i’m done with 1 part - its 25%. 2 -50% and so on. it makes me excited that way!
Today (Dec 2nd) is my 24th birthday and it made me think about how I’ve been writing for over ten years, and what was the main thing I learned in that time.
And what I learned, the main tip I can give you is just to write what you want to write. Even it’s not “well written”, even if it’s an idea that’s been done thousands of times, even if it’s something you would never show to another human being. Just write it.
You only get better at writing by writing, and you are far more likely to write if it’s something you want to write about. Craft the story you’ve always wanted to see, whether it’s one sentence or 100 pages. And you don’t have to show it to anyone. Don’t tie other people’s validation to your self-worth as a writer. Writing for yourself, writing for fun, for experimentation, is just as amazing as writing something to be published.
Writing should be fun, enjoyable, and/or relaxing (most of the time). If you start to hate writing, then take a step back and figure out why. Are you writing because you feel obligated to write at a certain pace, one that is causing you burnout? Are you writing something you don’t like for the satisfaction/praise/validation of others? If you reach the point where writing causes you more stress than joy, you need to evaluate your situation for the betterment of your current and future self.
And you don’t have to finish anything you write. The amount of unfinished stories I have is uncountable at this point, but it is numerous. The reason I dropped a story varied greatly; sometimes I grew out of the fandom (for fanfiction); sometimes I had just a couple of scenes that I wanted to write and after that, I didn’t feel the need to continue it, and sometimes I just moved on to another idea that caught my inspiration, and then I moved on to another Idea and then another and then…
Write what you want to write. Be proud of whatever you choose to write. And keep writing (when you feel like it). Good luck!
I wanted to highlight this WritingTipWed. Every Wednesday I post a writing tip on my Twitter! If you want to see these weekly, follow me @/EmilyLaJaunie.