Trapped inside this, my so-called life

I am trapped inside this life. I dwell inside this shell. Never grasping the reason for all the desperation I feel. The people that I love the most never see my true face. Staying veiled at all times ensures that emotions are erased. Could I be a follower or is leadership in my destiny? I have no idea myself of just what I could be. I know that I must rouse myself from this fitful dream. If I fail to wake up soon I'll not be drafted for either team. Screaming inside for aid to come and set me on the path of right. Hoping that it reaches me before I lose myself in the night.
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NaNoWriMo

nanowrimo




National Novel Writing Month (also known as NaNoWriMo) is an annual internet-based creative writing project which challenges participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel between November 1 and 30. Despite its name it accepts entries from around the world.

The project started in July 1999 with just 21 participants, but by the 2010 event over 200,000 people took part – writing a total of over 2.8 billion words.

Writers wishing to participate first register on the project's website, where they can post profiles and information about their novels, including synopsis and excerpts. Word counts are validated on the site, with writers submitting a copy of their novel for automatic counting. Municipal leaders and regional forums help connect local writers with one another for holding writing events and to provide encouragement.


writing


Anybody participating this year? :D
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Links Around the Web: July 2012 Edition

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Naming Your Story

Written by writ-write-wrote

"This is one thing I love to give advice and ponder about, but absolutely stink at doing. Titles can make or break your story—they can be the deciding factor of whether or not a potential reader becomes a reader. There isn’t a surefire formula with which you can get the perfect name, but there are some key points you might want to keep in mind while naming your story.

Creativity

If you’re lacking in creativity, naming your story will take more effort. I know most (hopefully all) writers have creativity; I’ll elaborate. Naming a story generally requires the short-and-sweet, right-to-the-point sort of creativity. You can be the most creative writer in the world, with swirly words and beautiful descriptions, amazing plot twists and intriguing characters… and a title could be the most difficult part of your story, because you can’t think of a way to capture your story in seven words or less.

Length

I would suggest not making your title an entire paragraph, or even a full sentence. As I’ve said above, I think seven words is a nice limiter, when you include conjunctions (and, but, or) and articles (a/an, the). (I didn’t realize this until after writing this, but even the Harry Potter books follow this rule.)

The Mood

I have a hard time expressing how the mood effects your title possibilities. I’m starting to think it doesn’t, actually. It’s just that different titles give different impressions. A story called “A Visit With Dad” about a girl who has to go to a jail to get her monthly visit with her mother-murdering father would suggest that it’s not an odd occurrence to her. Maybe it happened when she was such a little kid that she’s been doing this all her life. If you called the story “Gathering Memories of Mom”, it might suggest that she’s only visiting to learn about her mother, or perhaps she’s trying to find out who she is, and looking into her ancestry is somewhere she thinks she needs to start.

Basically, with the mood, you’ll have to go with your instinct—does the title fit? (Now I’m wondering why I made you read that long paragraph only to tell you that I’ll be no help… Sorry about that.)

Symbolism

Using symbolism in your title could be a very good thing. I would suggest using symbolism from a turning point in your story. For example, if the plot is that the main character rushes into a corporation of assassins to save her brother, and while doing so ends up losing the ribbon holding up her hair, a good title might be “As the Blue [or whatever other color; or no color] Ribbon Falls”. In this case, the title would be in reference to the drastic lifestyle change from ‘average high school girl’ to ‘girl on the run with her brother trying not to be killed by a corporation of assassins’.

Symbolism could also be for a key item, person, or place. If a key character is thought of as a fox by someone else important to the story (it could be the main character; or it could just be a general thought of the community), your title could be based around that person. With this, titles could be metaphors or similes as well. I suggested that the thought be from a main character only because, if it’s just the thought of one old farmer who’s merely someone who gives information—especially if that old farmer never appears before or after this—it doesn’t mean much to the story. It would be like calling your story about a slave seeking revenge for her husband’s cruel death “Aussie” because she once used a random citizen’s shower and used the Aussie conditioner.

~

I could go on with all the little things I’ve come up with. The most important things about a title are that it fits, and it’s something that could make you stop scanning all the books on the store’s shelf (or wherever it’s being shared) and think ‘This sounds interesting…’ If you think of your story as an essay, your title is probably the most important attention grabber."
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Introducing Your Character(s): DO

Written by writ-write-wrote, and this is a follow-up from her previous post which be located here,

Now that we have some ideas on what not to do when introducing your characters to the story, let’s fill in the blanks and find out what you should do.

First, the tips I gave yesterday:

• When you first introduce a character, I would suggest giving their name, their relation to the main character/narrator, and a few thoughts and opinions about them.

These thoughts and opinions could be “The first time I met Andrew, I made him laugh so hard he spat his gum in my hair.” or “She’s allergic to dairy, so I’m not really sure why she suggested pizza for dinner.” It can be a memory, a fun fact, a needed detail somewhere in the story, maybe even a plot twist if you really want.

Also please note that obviously this isn’t something you need to do in exact order or in rapid fire. Personally, I think names should be the first on the list, but be creative. Spread it out over a few paragraphs. Make sure it goes with how your story’s been so far.

• We don’t have to learn about [character] all at once, but by the time the story’s finished [character] should be a close acquaintance to us.

We should learn about them as if we’re learning about them in real life—your story is real life. Little bits and pieces, sometimes a big revelation, maybe a lie here and there. Eventually, all of this will build up into knowing them.

Now for some new information.

• Bring them up before bringing them in

This could be done by saying “Hey Jenny, WHATSAMAHOOSITS called, she wanted to know if you wanted to help her with babysitting tomorrow.” or by mentioning them in internal dialogue.

After bringing them up, you could introduce them before actually meeting them, by letting us learn more about them; maybe WHATSAMAHOOSITS actually doesn’t like kids, and this was their first time mentioning babysitting. Your character could—briefly enough—reflect on this, and maybe come up with ideas as to why this is happening (or you could be more creative than me.)

• There’s a current predicament that your character needs them

Add some tweaks and flip around the Jenny and WHATSAMAHOOSITS situation. Maybe WHATSAMAHOOSITS is your main character, needing Jenny to help out because they don’t know a thing about taking care of children and Jenny is known to be a maternal person. Ta da! Enter: Jenny.

• Oh, what a coincidence! You’re here too?

A chance meeting at a public place or event, or simply your character wasn’t aware that newb would be there so it seems like chance. It could be at a party, grocery store, arcade, movie theatre, school bathroom, hockey game… Just please don’t make it be at someone else’s house, because that can be both awkward and creepy.

Also please note that this could be considered cliche and uncreative. But if you need a simple meetup between characters and swear on the Internet that you won’t use it more than 25% of the time, I find it to be acceptable. And it can’t be a “oh, you’re at the party too and you brought an extra present? Thank god; you just saved me from the apocalypse” (what?). Don’t go easy on your characters; don’t give them an easy way out with a new character.

Introducing Your Character(s): DON’T

Written by writ-write-wrote

A story without characters isn’t a story. There has to be at least one character, be it a person, animal, plant, alien, or mountain.

With that said, however, your characters can’t just randomly poof into the story (… unless they really do poof), or be treated as if they’ve been there since before the beginning.

• Poof! Here’s my 10-page biography


“Let’s go get some cake,” Mark said.

Jenny also wanted to tag along. Jenny was a really nice girl, with really long chocolate brown hair and the smoothest skin I’ve ever seen. Her parents were divorced, but she was still a really happy kid. She’s shorter than me, but last year she was taller. Jenny’s also terrified of moths and grasshoppers because of an incident when she was little. When she was five…


We had never met Jenny, but that paragraph is too much for a first meeting. Going to get cake with someone new doesn’t mean you should proceed to give their life story. When you first introduce a character, I would suggest giving their name, their relation to the main character/narrator, and a few thoughts and opinions about them. We don’t have to learn about Jenny all at once, but by the time the story’s finished (and as long as she’s not a purposely-mysterious character or someone who was met within the last fifty pages) Jenny should be a close acquaintance to us.

• You’ve known me since birth

So after that example you’re understanding what I meant here, right? I think I explained it pretty well, and we’re on the same page, so let’s continue with our story.

Yes, the ‘You’ve known me since birth’ character is what I’d say to be the complete opposite of the ‘Poof! Here’s my 10-page biography’ character. If this one is the narrator’s best friend, you’ll be lucky to know their name. It’s very likely that you won’t know they’re the narrator’s best friend. It’s a confusing character because the readers are the only ones who don’t know. Every other character knows this guy (let’s call him Adam) Adam, so no one feels any inclination to shed some light on him, and it takes a very long time to learn whether or not he’s the school janitor or the president of the drama club (or both?).

~

There are some DO NOT’s of introducing a character. When I’m a better blogger (aka less lazy; I’m really sorry.), I’ll get onto the DO’s.

Stick around?

Basic Tips To Write Better Geniuses, Scientists, & Intellectuals

Source: String Hole

Know what science actually is


This is probably the most important step. Science is a method of discovery, not a philosphy or belief system. It does not nor has it ever claimed to have all the answers. If you actually know what science is and how it works, the concept of "harmonzing science and magic" sounds about as exciting and revolutionary as harmonizing spiral binders and poetry. The simple fact of the matter is that if magic existed as depicted in most fantasy stories, there would be a branch of science dedicated to figuring out just how and why it worked. Scientists would not deny its existance simply because they had no explanation for it yet - they would spend years, even lifetimes working on figuring it out.

An actual scientist would not see something magical and think, "That's impossible because the laws of science say so!" Xe would be thinking, "Well, that looks like magic, but everything we always thought was magic turned out not to be, so this probably isn't magic, either. What's really going on here?"

To get a basic idea of what the scientific method is and what it entails, go here.

Know how logic actually works


When the average person imagines a "logical" character, they often imagine someone like Spock, who does completely ridiculous and irrational things in the name of logic - IE, fail to take important factors such as other peoples' emotional states into account when making decisions. "Logic" in and of itself does not state half the things people say it does. For example, logic does not "dictate" that fairies don't exist. However, it does dictate that just because many people believe in fairies doesn't make them any more likely to be real, because we know large numbers of people believe things that aren't real or true all the time.

To get a better grasp on what this logic thing is all about, I recommend you head over here.

Don't have them know everything about everything.


You know, the Reed Richardsian scientist who can engineer an aeroplane at breakfast, sequence a genome at lunch, and examine ice cores at dinner? Don't do that. Just about every scientific endeavour takes an incredibly long time to learn, and there just aren't enough hours in the day to get to know them all in depth. Add to that the simple fact that most branches of science just may not be all that interesting to xir - a marine biologist just might not care all that much about astrophysics or the chemistry behind making a perfect beer.


Make your character get things wrong before xe finds the solution.


In an early episode of CSI, a character looked at Gil Grissom - a genius by any definition - and made a jab about him being wrong about something. Grissom looked at the character and calmly responded, "I'm often wrong. It's how I get to right." Even the smartest and most educated of people have to go through a lot of trial-and-error when it comes to solving tricky problems, often in part because they don't initially have all of the facts.


Don't make (all of) them dry and dull.


Smart people and scientists come in every personality type there is. Sure, there are those who couldn't crack a joke if their lives depended on it, but on the other hand there are people like Neil Degrasse Tyson who can make death by black hole absolutely hilarious, or the playful Adam Savage best known for his role on Mythbusters.


Don't use big or obscure words where they don't belong.


If you're combing the thesaurus for no other reason than you think a character needs big words to use, you're doing it wrong. Generally, intelligent and educated folks choose large words over smaller words when they are more precise and descriptive than the latter. If you're going to use a large word, ask yourself whether it actually helps to clarify what the person is saying, or whether it just muddles it. Also, if your character is ready to volley an insult, don't flip through the medical dictionary to find the Latin word for 'butt' - just use 'ass.'

Remember that scientists and intellectuals do appreciate the beauty of the world and the universe


A popular misconception is that these type of folks fail to see the wonder in a flower or a rainbow. The truth is, they do - and they're so impressed and captivated by what they see that they want to learn more about it. Learning what makes rainbows shine and flowers blossom only adds to their appreciation. Not investigating or researching them makes about as much sense as putting birthday or Christmas presents up on a shelf forever just to go on wondering what's in them.


Remember that real scientists and intellectuals often enjoy entertainment with bad science


When it comes to science fiction that plays it fast and loose with science, Doctor Who probably takes the cake. But guess who fanboys about Doctor Who on his blog? NASA astronomer Phil Plait, that's who. The man even built a snow dalek in the winter of '09. Neil Degrasse Tyson stated that if the director doesn't care whether the movie is scientifically accurate, then he doesn't care. He also described the movie Armageddon as fun, even though the asteroids did have really good aim.


Remember that they enjoy the same things as everyone else.


Michio Kaku enjoys ice-skating. Phil Plait posts pictures of his cat. While most of them will enjoy doing things that challenge the noodle a bit more than average, many of their interests and likes won't be much different from anyone else's.

Likable Villains

Written by FYCD

We’ve gotten quite a few Asks regarding making a villain or antagonist a likable, sympathetic, or relatable character. So we’re making you a master post. Enjoy.

Sympathetic Characters:

What makes readers feel sympathetic towards a character?
The best, most genuine way to write a character that people will sympathize with is to take the time and create a round, realistic character with motivations and feelings that are understandable to the audience. Because humans are naturally inclined to feel empathy for each other, they will sympathize with almost anyone who they can see themselves in. If at any point the reader is thinking something like ‘I could see myself feeling or acting this way’, you’ve got them. There is a difference between disagreeing with a characters’ actions and judging them- you want your audience to only disagree (if at all).

Antagonist:

We’ve used ‘villain’ in the title, but it’s probably better to use the term ‘antagonist.’

Antagonist:
noun
1. a person who is opposed to, struggles against, or competes with another; opponent; adversary.
2. the adversary of the hero or protagonist of a drama orother literary work: Iago is the antagonist of Othello.
(Dictionary.com)

Actually, an antagonist doesn’t have to be a person, depending on what kind of conflict you are writing. You can have a story without an antagonist, or a story that lacks an overarching antagonist as well. However, for the purposes of this post, when we say ‘antagonist’, we mean any person who engages in a major conflict with the protagonist of the story.

(Put it together for) Sympathetic Antagonists:

What makes readers feel sympathetic towards the antagonist of a story?

Real people are often hard to pin down as ‘evil’ or ‘good’, rather, they do good or evil things. Though your antagonist might do things that the audience does not agree with, if the reader can understand your character’s motivations, they will have a harder time condemning them altogether. When I say ‘sympathetic’, I don’t mean that the reader has to agree with that character’s actions, or even like them- rather, the sense that the character is not so different from the reader is what makes an antagonist ‘sympathetic’. As C put it, “The reader can SEE that the villain has good qualities, but their actions work against the hero.”

A few methods:

Backstory: The scary thing about nature vs. nurture thinking is that we still don’t know how much of our actions are influenced by genes, and how much by our environment. Therefore, most people, when presented with an account of how someone was shaped into who they are today by circumstances beyond their control, most readers will think, ‘that could have been me’.

Logic: While characters that are mentally unhealthy are popular for a villain role these days, I love a villain who has an excellent reason for what s/he’s doing. Take the antagonists behind the scenes in Ender’s Game, Graff and Anderson. They emotionally destroyed many children (including the protagonist), allowed one to die on their watch, and committed xenocide by proxy. But it was their plan to save the world.

Motivation: People can do things when they are angry, or insecure, or fearful, that they wouldn’t under other conditions. For example, fear makes people irrational. Nearly everyone has experienced this. If you have ever frantically crushed a spider under a book (poor book), then you can sympathize, even just a bit, with someone hurting other people because they are afraid.

This has been FYCD

C is a bamf.

Further Reading:

'How To Write The Bad Guy'

'THE SYMPATHETIC VILLAIN'

'Creating an Interesting Bad Guy'

'50 greatest villains in literature'

'The Nine Most Sympathetic Villains'

'Top 10 Sympathetic Supervillains'

'Wikipedia: Sympathetic Villain'

'Creating Sympathetic Villains'

A few TV Tropes examples for inspiration:

Well-Intentioned Extremist

Visionary Villain

Hero Antagonist

Villain Protagonist

Ineffectual Sympathetic

Anti Villian
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I would also like to take this opportunity to hear you guys for any suggestions or changes or any fixing around here. I would take them into consideration. Please let me, down below when you post that comment!
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Music for Writing

Music can lead to great inspiration and can help you keep up the pace while you’re writing. Thankfully there are several places you can go to get good, free music.

Spotify is a great music player that you can download to your computer or iPod. There are tons of songs that you can choose from and you can create your own playlists or choose to listen to a radio station based on your favorite artist or song. The best part is that it’s free! All you need is a Facebook account to sign in and you’re good to go. Unfortunately, it’s only available in certain countries, so it might not be ideal for everyone.

Grooveshark. This site lets you stream music for free from your web browser. You can create playlists and view others’ playlists. If you create an account you can save your favorite selections for easy access later.

Pandora Radio. Pandora streams music based on various “radio stations” that you create. Type in a song and Pandora will choose music based on the artist and tone of the song that you’ve chosen. All you need is an email address to create a free account.

Steromood. Choose from the tags on the front page or search for something specific. You’ll be presented with a playlist that best matches the mood/ emotion that you are searching for. The site is free and you don’t need an account.

Musicovery. Choose a mood from the mood pad on the front page and you’ll be shown a playlist. From there you can choose a decade and listen to your heart’s content. The site is free and no account is needed.

These are just a few of the sites that I use at the moment. More will be added in the future.


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