Discover Yourself Through Writing

Discover Yourself Through Writing

Yesterday, I took a walk through my favorite park- the park my parents have taken me to since I was a small child. I’ve walked through this gorgeous tree-peppered park about a thousand times. Every river, rock-laden path, golden field, tree tattooed with random initials I thought I knew like the back of my hand. After all, twenty-seven years should grant a girl the confidence of being an expert on her childhood park. But yesterday, everything changed. I discovered something brand new, and it blew me away. What did I discover? And why did I discover it just now? Why didn’t I discover it, say, fifteen years ago? Well, stay tuned for the answers, friend. For now, I want you to think about your life in a similar light. You’ve walked the same paths a thousand times over. Your daily routine, your schedule- it’s all been one reliable beat- no surprises (or at least, you hope for none). So why are you here, reading this post right now? Something drew you to this page. Something inside you is yearning for a change in the status quo, some little voice inside is crying out. So what is it crying out for? Discovery. Humans are in a constant state of change no matter how much we ignore it or don’t see it. It’s only when that little voice inside becomes so overwhelmingly loud that you finally realize you need a change- a revolution within. You wish to branch out into uncharted territory and discover a new aspect of yourself. Can I be a writer? How do I even begin this journey? I don’t know how to...
Finding the Strength to Write When You’re Coping With Illness

Finding the Strength to Write When You’re Coping With Illness

So, I have to let you in on a little secret: I’ve been battling a regularly occurring illness for some time now, and it totally sucks. There are some days that my body is in so much pain, I can hardly move from my bed at all. Then, there are days when I am working full speed and winning at life like a champ. What I’ve discovered is this: modesty and a little routine called “counting my strengths” keeps me motivated to write and just be a human on my toughest days.   Are you coping with a serious illness too? Are you undergoing regularly occurring health problems that throw your life-train off the tracks too? Just know that you’re not alone. Know that your struggle is not in vain. Also, know that you’re courageous as heck and you’re capable of, not just coping with your illness, but living your life despite the pain. For those of you who may not suffer illness, I’ll tell you honestly that it feels like the heaviest ball and chain, or the most frustrating prison in the world. You feel like you have no control and that’s the hardest part of all. These simple things that we all take for granted are taken away from you:   Freedom Independence Energy Strength Social life Productivity Focus And sometimes, even more than that. For me, it has even greatly affected my workflow and my time spent writing. See, when you’re suffering illness, you don’t want to acknowledge that you’re not quite the same person any longer. Anything that acknowledges your weakened state may trigger all sorts of fears. At least, it did for me. First, I became forced to accept my limitations....
4 Ways To Revolutionize Female Villains

4 Ways To Revolutionize Female Villains

Why do female villains tend to act and look the same? Why don’t we take female villains seriously? Why do so few female villains actually terrify us? Male villains have made a 180 degree turn over the last few years. That guy with the curly mustache who ties the damsel to the train tracks simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Villains like Heath Ledger’s Joker, James Moriarty, and others have revolutionized evil. On the other hand, female villains haven’t evolved equally. If we think about the classic line-up of female villains, they share about 3 similarities: They wear the same ridiculous, theatrical or super sexy get-up meant to focus all attention on their hot bod instead of their personal goal. They have the same “I’M PURE EVIL!” laughter. They use overtly sexualized “tricks up their sleeves” to get the job done. But worst of all, villainesses tend to lack a profound motive which makes their personal conflict seem more like a hissy fit instead of a threat to be taken seriously. In fact, villainesses tend to be given the same three motives for their actions: Petty revenge Spurned or unrequited love Jealousy But what’s so wrong about these motives anyway? In it of itself, those motives aren’t completely heinous but when villainesses are consistently put into these three categories and not much else, then we have a problem. How? Because these motives narrow her potential, trivialize her goals, and worst of all, they create a caricature of evil.  Now granted, there are a few exceptions that we could stand to learn from. First, there’s Stephen King’s crazed super-fan, Annie Wilkes, played by the master, Kathy Bates. Then there’s the bloodthirsty...
My Top Ten Villains of All Time: Part 3 (#4-#1)

My Top Ten Villains of All Time: Part 3 (#4-#1)

If you missed the start of this countdown, then I highly suggest you first read the first and second post right here: Why are the last posts so valuable to you today? In the first post, we learned the 5 types of villains most commonly found in fiction In the previous post, we learned the 4 four most powerful weapons all great villains use And finally, we learned numbers 10 through 5 on my ultimate naughty list You’ll be shocked who ranks in! So please, have a read at my previous post before we learn the do’s and don’ts for a villain’s origin story, and find out numbers 4-1 on my top villains of all time list.    But hey- if you’re ahead of the game and have last week’s post already under your belt, then congrats! You get to move on to the final round. The best way to encourage readers to invest in your villain is by revealing the villain’s origin story. However, introducing it the wrong way can create a massive wall between your readers and your story. Or worse yet, your villain’s origin story could be so over-the-top or unrealistic that it gags the reader.  So, how do you craft an origin story that doesn’t induce an eye-roll from your readers so intense they can see their brain stem? There are some common mistakes authors fall victim to when revealing their villain’s origin story. So we will discuss a few don’ts to avoid and a few do’s to adhere to. These key tips will ask readers to invest in your villain and care about (or at least pay attention to) his journey. And most importantly, they will keep...
My Top 10 Villains of All Time: Part 2 (#7-#5)

My Top 10 Villains of All Time: Part 2 (#7-#5)

If you missed the start of this countdown, then I highly suggest you first read the previous post right here: Why is last week’s post so valuable to you today? We learned the 4 fundamental characteristics of all great villains We learned the 5 villain types most commonly found in fiction And finally, we learned numbers 10 through 8 on my ultimate naughty list You’ll be shocked who ranks in, and, more importantly, you’ll learn what characteristics all writers need to include in their own villains. So please, have a read at my previous post before we learn the 5 deadliest weapons ever used by a villain, and find out numbers 7-5 on my top villains of all time list.    But hey- if you’re ahead of the game and have last week’s post already under your belt, then congrats! You get to move on to the next round.   Villains hardly ever leave home without an arsenal of weaponry cocked and loaded for their cause. Some weapons are so deadly, so catastrophic, we fear that the world of mankind may never see the light of day again. Some villains are born with their weapon, abusing their superpowers and leveling humankind with a simple flick of their wrist. And worst of all, some weapons are in the mind of the villain, causing fear and paranoia leading to submission in their prey. So which types of weaponry leave readers trembling in their boots the most? And, which type should your villain use? Weapons of Mass Destruction What’s worse? All residents of say, New York City, London, or Sydney Australia, under threat?...
My Top 10 Villains of All Time: Part 1 (#10-#8)

My Top 10 Villains of All Time: Part 1 (#10-#8)

Listen to this post on my Podcast!   The most commonly asked question I receive nowadays is, “Hey Rae, what do you think makes for a great villain?” The thing is, this question can’t be answered simply. There are a series of fundamentals that every villain needs, yes. But likewise, there are villain types that every villain is categorized under. If you plan on creating a villain, or antagonist, for your story then you have to first gather the fundamentals, and then you have to understand the category your villain will fall under. Finally, you set him loose! So this month I’ve decided to break down my top ten villains of all time. Most of these villains come from nostalgia, others from sheer awe and respect as a writer. Still, others, simply because they are unabashedly bad to the bone! All will be carefully dissected so that we as writers can appreciate why these villains shake us and how we can create villains just as intriguing in our own stories. So, today I’m revealing #10- #8, and I’ll be breaking down what category each villain falls under, and what makes these villains so memorable, so spine-tinglingly scary, and so unique! First, let’s discuss what every villain needs to have- the four fundamental characteristics of all great villains: Delusions of Grandeur  Yes, every single villain out there suffers from a terrible, incurable case of this nasty characteristic. This quality is what blinds the villain to their undying belief in their ideals and inexcusable actions. This quality leaves all villains believing they are above the common person by either being smarter, faster, stronger, slicker, or more...
What is an Anti-Hero? And How Can You Create an Awesome Anti-Hero?

What is an Anti-Hero? And How Can You Create an Awesome Anti-Hero?

Listen to this post on my Podcast! Anti-heroes: not exactly heroes, not exactly villains. The complicated soul that is so difficult to define. They are the complex characters whose life choices we detest, yet we still find ourselves rooting for their happy ending. So why is that? What exactly is an anti-hero? How do they function? And, how can we craft a masterful anti-hero for our own novel? To properly break down anti-heroes, we need to take a good look at a couple famous faces that exude anti-heroism: Now, some of these faces may surprise you- like, say, Rory Gilmore. Now, how in the world is precious, perfect Rory Gilmore considered an anti-hero? Plainly put, an anti-hero is a protagonist whose negative qualities often make decisions for them. Usually, they lack conventional heroic qualities such as idealism, courage, or morality. An anti-hero fights pretty unheroically for his own wants and desires, while a hero would fight heroicly for the wants and desires of others. Anti-hero characters are considered “conspicuously contrary to an archetypal hero”. Still, this definition is considered debatable. See, anti-heroes are amongst the most disputed characters in the fiction realm. Many authors find that the definition of “anti-hero” is more widely encompassing than others believe it to be. Some writers even claim that all characters, good or evil, have anti-hero characteristics and therefore defining an anti-hero altogether narrows character dimension!   Debate aside, there are always three defining negative characteristics found in all anti-heroes: 1) Selfish/self-centered goals 2) Finds justification for self-serving actions 3) Bows predominantly to negative characteristics (such as ignorance, bigotry, selfishness, cowardice)   Scott Pilgrim has all three...
How to Write a Killer First Chapter: (AKA What Your First Chapter REALLY Needs)

How to Write a Killer First Chapter: (AKA What Your First Chapter REALLY Needs)

Listen to this post on my Podcast! Why does the first chapter intimidate so many writers? Nancy Kress, popular science fiction author and Nebula Award winner put it simply when she said, “The truth is, you have about three pages in a novel, to capture the editor’s attention enough for her to finish your story.” We know the same holds true for our readers. The first chapter decides if this book is worth the reader’s time. It’s the most severely judged chapter in your entire novel. At the outset, readers have very little reason to commit to your story. With that in mind, we must give the reader solid reasons to commit to characters, problems, even worlds that they know nothing about, in just a few pages. So how do we do it? How do we sell the first chapter to the reader? What does a first chapter really need anyhow? Behind the narrative of every story lays unseen structure that separates winning novels from forgettable ones. The invisible qualities of your story are equally as important as the visible qualities of it. The reader can’t put their finger on it, but he feels it when this invisible structure is missing or weak. The book isn’t striking him, and soon he loses interest. So what is this fundamental structure? Your Story's Promise:   Every story has an all-encompassing promise as the foundation of the novel. Promises are specific to certain genres and influence the story’s central theme. The promise either touches the reader emotionally or intellectually. The emotional promise says: Read this and you’ll be thrilled, titillated, nostalgic, uplifted,...
Will You Participate in #NaNoWriMo2016? 3 Reasons Why You Should!

Will You Participate in #NaNoWriMo2016? 3 Reasons Why You Should!

This is the first year I’m participating in NaNoWriMo. Will it be yours too? Perhaps you’re a lot like I was. I always believed NaNoWriMo was just a month celebrating authors, writing, and attacking a heck of a word count goal. So, because I didn’t believe in focusing on word count goal alone -nor in group events (INFJ problems)- I never had the desire to participate in it. But I didn’t have all the facts about NaNoWriMo. And, I was focusing on the wrong goal. First off, I really didn’t know what NaNoWriMo is truly all about. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel. That last line really makes the point. If you’ve ever wanted to write a novel, this is a great time to focus on that very goal. NanNoWriMo has hundreds of thousands of writers from all over the world take part in the same challenge. Therefore there’s no need to go it alone or feel intimidated by fellow candidates. The official support group that can be found at nanowrimo.org/forums  welcomes open communication from all participants. To have a group of writers just like you attacking the same goal boosts determination and lowers fears. Making the commitment to write 50,000 words in 30 days also gives you what every writer needs: a healthy amount of time to focus on your craft. While reaching daily word...
Three Amazing Shows All Writers Should Be Watching

Three Amazing Shows All Writers Should Be Watching

Listen to this post on my Podcast! None of us need an excuse to watch more shows on Netflix, right? Nope! But what if I gave you three awesome reasons why you as a writer should be watching more shows on Netflix? What if I told you those three reasons will help you: A) Master organic dialogue B) Create stronger character identities and relationships C) Value the importance of excellent research D) Build powerful scenes that resonate No doubt you’re eager to share some quality time with your couch now, right?So what are those three shows you should be watching right now on Netflix? 1. Freaks and Geeks 2. The West Wing 3. Stranger Things   So, why these three shows? Well, I could go on for a full century as to why we as writers must watch these shows, but I promise I’ll try to rein it in. Let’s start with Freaks and Geeks. Freaks and Geeks is an American teen comedy-drama television series, created by Paul Feig (The Office), with Judd Apatow as executive producer. It aired on NBC during the 1999–2000 television season. Set in the year 1980, a group of misfits and burnouts are just trying to survive high school while finding out who they are, and who they really want to be. Now, I’ve seen this same idea for a show almost a hundred times. So why doesFreaks and Geeks stand head and shoulders above the rest? Because it’s the only show that (if I didn’t know any better) seems to be completely unscripted. The dialogue is so realistic, the characters so true to...

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