Friday, December 8, 2017

How to Keep Your Book From Being Boring

Stories should be many things.

They should be creative. They should provoke thought, inspire beautiful actions, create a bond between the reader, writer, and characters. 

And they should always, always be entertaining. 

And yet we've all read books that are either flat-out snooze fests or have paragraphs that are not interesting enough to deserve more than a quick skim. 

I'm tired of it, people. Tired. If I wanted to be bored I'd go watch a documentary about how to watch paint dry.

Can we all just decide to stop writing boring books or paragraphs? Yes? Okay, then. Thank you. 

What? Why are you still here? Don't you know how to not be boring? Fiiine. Here are some ways to keep your book from putting people to sleep: 
How to Keep Your Book From Being Boring
Ask: Is this boring? No, seriously. Every time you sit down to write a scene, ask: Is this boring? Every. Time. Get in the habit of constantly checking for boring scenes. Not sure if it's boring? Ask yourself this: 
  • Will I be bored writing this scene? If you are dreading writing a scene because nothing interesting happens, that is a bad sign. How do you expect your readers to be invested if you aren't? 
  • Would I care if I was reading this? Try to put yourself in your readers shoes. If you had to read this section, would you be fascinated? Mildly interested? Bored? Bored and annoyed in a way that would rival even Alexander Dane's constant emotional state?
    If it's any of those last three options, you have work to do. 
Now that you've established that this section is likely boring, how do you avert the disaster? 

1. Ask: Is it necessary? What would happen if I cut it out? Why are you writing this section? Does it have key information? A pivotal piece of character development? If not: Don't write it. Nothing in your books should be there without purpose. If the scene does have some key point to it, try these: 

2. Change the information flow. If there's something pivotal (character development, world building information, foreshadowing, etc) that needs to take place, try spacing it out. Does it really need to happen all in one, boring scene? Can you sprinkle the information throughout other less-boring scenes? Hint: The answer is yes. 

3. Keep things moving. Literally. Are your characters sitting down? Have them walking. Running. Fighting dragons. Gardening. Washing laundry. Anything that gets them up and about and doing something other than just behaving as a vehicle for whatever information you're trying to convey. Think about how this scene would be done in a movie (like, a good one...not one of those terrible 80s movies with the weird pacing). Mimic that. 

4. Be intentional with the words you use. Language is key. Use interesting words. Vary your sentences (short sentences can often be more eye-catching than longer ones) and paragraphs (don't have any of them too long, but don't feel the need to keep them all the same size). Don't be afraid to get a little bit artistic with your sentences and paragraphs. If your writing style is good, it will help keep the story up and running. No, you shouldn't rely solely on this to keep your book from being boring, but it is helpful when combined with the above (and below) tips. 

5. Don't be afraid to jump over details or scenes. So, maybe your character needs to get from A to B. Does it matter how they get there? No? Then skip the travel sequence. Your character is undergoing training? Do you need to show the actual training lessons? No? Splice information together into a montage and only show the key lesson(s). Go watch the Rocky movie for examples of this. It may feel brutal to jump over parts of the story, but you'll be proud of yourself in the end. 
Gotta love this scene. And the movie in general.
6. Remember that you're not Tolkien. You know who can describe a blade of grass for two pages and still sell books? Tolkien. You know who can't? You. So stop with the insane amounts of description. If it's not relevant, don't talk about it. If you're trying to describe the setting because it helps set the mood or explain context, describe details as you go. Or in a very, very short paragraph. Actually, just read this post. 

7. Take notes on entertainment that is well-paced. Most good movies/TV shows have no boring scenes. Think Jason Bourne, The Thin Man, Stranger Things, Murder on the Orient Express (yes, I'm talking about the new one) The Winter Soldier, I Love Lucy, The Dark Knight. Comic books and manga are also notoriously good at avoiding the Boring Zone (click here for a list of good ones). Many of the Harry Potter books are thoroughly entertaining. Watch/read some of these and notice: How often do they omit scenes? How do they convey information? In scenes that could have been boring, how do they keep you invested? Take notes and apply them to your writing. 

Do you have any tips to add? Please leave them below! Why/when do you think you struggle with keeping your writing from being boring? Let's chat.

Related articles:
8 Tips to Improve Your Descriptive Writing
Why Not All Prologues Are Evil (And How to Write A Good One) 
Using Context and Subtext to Raise the Stakes in Your Story - A Guest Post by Malcolm Tolman

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Some links are Amazon affiliate. Thank you for your support!

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Writer's Book Tag: Books I Love, Hate, and Couldn't Care Less About

It's been a long time since I've participated in a blog tag. I usually pass a lot of them by because I feel like they're cheating you, my lovely followers, out of your usual writing tips post. But this one piqued my interest because 1) I'm super busy right now and don't currently have any ideas for an original post (just being honest). 2) This tag is about one of my favorite things and your favorite things: Books.

Many thanks to S.M. Metzler from Tea with Tumnus (and possibly some other people at some point or another? Sorry. I'm bad at keeping track of these things) for tagging me to join in on the fun.

So let's get to it.
The Writer's Book Tag: Books I Love, Hate, and Couldn't Care Less About
First Draft: A book or and series that you’ve never read before. 

Yes, I'm editing these prompts a bit so that I can talk about more than one book per post. I know that's breaking the rules, but what are you going to do? Throw me in blogger jail? Pffft. That's not an actual thing, right? .... Right?!

Book: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. As an avid reader of classic novels, it's actually very odd that I've never read this. But, while we're on the subject, I may as well confess: I have no idea what this book is about. A slaughterhouse? Is it for animals or people? Or maybe it's a metaphor? For what, though? I have no idea. I'll find out at some point, as I do intend to read it.

Series: The Divergent series by Veronica Roth. You can't make me. I'd rather read Bella Swan's diary, which we all know would be boring and depressing and aggravating beyond belief.

Second Draft: A book or series you didn’t like as much the second time you read it.

The Tamarack Tree by Patricia Clapp. I own this book and I honestly don't know where it came from because I'm certain I didn't buy it for myself. I sometimes read it when I'm sick and in bed. Again...I have no idea why...except that it has something to do with the fact that I can never remember what it's about or how it ends. 

The second time I read it I remember thinking, "Why do you like this, again?" I still don't have an answer. It's not a bad book, but apparently not a particularly good one considering I've read it at least five times and still can't remember the plot. But maybe it is good given that I somehow brought myself to re-read it four times? I don't know. Unless...
Yeah. That's gotta be it.

Final Draft: A book or and series that you’ve liked for a really long time.

Book: Island of Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell. I loved Scott O'Dell as a child and this one is still an age-old favorite. It's beautiful and heartrending and I just...I really, really like it. It's been a while since I've read it, though, so now I'm feeling the urge to re-read it, which is unfortunate because my 'to-be-read' list already has approximately 12989043783 books on it.

Series: The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander. This is the best. Absolute best. I love it. It never ceases to make me smile and it's one of the first book series that made me fall in love with fantasy. 

Killing Off Your Characters: A book or series that made you cry.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. This book ripped my heart out and made me cry several different times. You should read it. It's excellent. 

Plot Holes: A book or and series that disappointed you.

So many. So many. In case you hadn't noticed from reading my blog: I'm a very critical person. Thus, I'm constantly finding myself frustrated. Narrowing down my list was hard, but here were the first two that came to mind:

Book: 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. "Disappointed" is a very weak and slightly inaccurate description of my feelings towards this book. "Angry" and "upset" are a bit better. I wrote a whole review about it, in case anybody cares. And if you are about to leave me a long comment down below about how this book is actually really good and helpful: Please don't. I am armed with logic and an unparalleled hatred for this book and I will destroy you. It's cute that you think you can win, but seriously. No. 

Series: The Maze Runner series by James Dashner. I really enjoyed the first. The second one annoyed me. The third one made me lose hope in the series. I was so disappointed because I really did want to like this series due to the fascinating concept and neat characters....But there were so many issues. SO many. Why did all the female characters end up being unlikable? And what was with that ending? Did the author really have to kill off all of the good characters? And what was the point of any of it, anyway? *sigh* 

Writer’s Block: A book or series you’ve never finished.

*whispers* I never actually finished the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books by Rick Riordan. Partly because I disliked pretty much all of the characters and partly because I find Riordan's writing style very grating (nothing personal, Rick...you seem like a cool person). 

Yeah. I know I just alienated about half of my readership. *shrugs* You should also know that I'm not a huge fan of The Hunger Games or Shakespeare. You can go ahead and start throwing things at me now. 

Feedback: A book or and series you’d recommed to anyone and everyone.

This is actually really hard because I don't know of many books that I think are suitable to be recommended to everybody of varying reading tastes and age ranges, but I'll do my best: 

Book: Winnie-The-Pooh by A.A. Milne. Seriously. Laugh if you want to, but everybody should read this book. It's phenomenal: Clever, heartfelt, sweet, thought-provoking. I don't care how old you are: You need to read this book. 

Series: Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. I think this one is charming and enjoyable even for people who don't like fantasy. But maybe I'm blinded by my love for this universe. 

Now my brain is cramming full of all of the other books I want to tell you all about. Maybe I should do a Youtube live stream where we just all chat about books? Does anybody want that? Maybe I'll put something together over Christmas break. Maybe. Don't get too excited. 

What are some books that you loved, hate, or couldn't care less about? Were there any books I listed that surprised you? I'd love to hear your thoughts! And, of course: If you'd like to join in on this tag, just jump! You have my permission to say that I tagged you.

Related articles:
If I Had a Million Dollars | A Writers Tag
Six Question Character Challenge: A Look at the Characters from The Stump of the Terebinth Tree
Q&A Tag: On Batmobiles and Lightsaber Skills

Enjoy this post? Take a look around. If you like what you see, please don't forget to subscribe by email for a new post every Friday!

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Friday, November 24, 2017

8 Tips for Writing Arguments

I bet you think you don't need to read this post. Why would you? You've had arguments before, so you can probably figure it out.

Well.

That's what you think.

In reality, your written arguments are stilted and unrealistic (like most fictional arguments are...Don't feel too bad about it). Now, there are two ways to fix this glaring issues:

1) Pick a really mean, really loud argument with a family member or roommate. Secretly record said argument. Play it over and over and try to mimics the emotions, vocabulary, body language, and reasoning behind everything said and done in your verbal battle. And also start looking for somewhere else to live because dang. You'll be lucky if they let you live in the doghouse.

2) Read this article.
Hannah Heath: 8 Tips for Writing Arguments
You picked 2, didn't you? Wise choice.

1. Take your character's personality into account. A lot of writers don't do this. You do realize that not everybody argues the same way? Some people are very frigid and logical in their arguments. Some are emotional. Some wave their hands. Others don't. Most dredge up old arguments and hurt feelings, but some don't explicitly state that that's what they're doing or thinking. Some won't talk it out, while others just yell. Some people don't argue: They just let the issue simmer and it leads to passive aggressive behavior. There are many other. Figure out how your character argues and then see how it matches with the other person/people they are arguing with.

2. Make sure your dialogue doesn't suck. Go read this blog post to improve your dialogue writing skills.

3. Give background. Build up tension before the actual argument. J.K. Rowling does an excellent job of this: There are hurt feelings, small jabs, and tense situations that take place before the actual verbal argument. If you want the argument to have force, start building it up before it happens. Do this in same way that you would build up to a climax.

4. Give them a reason for fighting. Nobody likes it when characters argue over contrived or idiotic things. It leaves the reader disliking both characters, so unless your goal is for your fans (soon to be ex-fans) to make this face:
Then try giving them each legitimate points. Then your readers will feel more engaged in the argument and the characters.

5. Create a skeleton argument, then add filler. A what? A skeleton argument. It looks like this:

Bob: I'm angry because Anne lied to me about ____.
Anne: I'm hurt that Bob can't believe that I had his best interests in mind.
Bob: Relationships only work if there is communication and I don't think Anne cares about that.
Anne: Maybe I would communicate more if I felt that Bob wouldn't flip out and behave rashly.

There's the skeleton. The main points of the argument. That being said, nobody argues this way. If they did, the arguments probably wouldn't last so long or get so nasty. That's what the filler is for: All of the ways that the characters will go about skirting around the issue. Bob may say that he has never lied to Anne, then Anne may bring up that one time he did, which will lead to a new, off-topic, but no-less-nasty argument. It'll eventually (and hopefully quickly, otherwise your reader will get bored) loop back around to Anne pointing out that she was trying to help. She'll say something to the effect that Bob never takes control and she always has to do things for him, and he'll say that's because she won't work as part of a team and on and on and on. Got it? The skeleton is helpful because it allows you as the writer to keep the argument tethered to the main points while allowing their conversation to have a realistic, meandering quality.

6. Treat your argument like a mini plot. Why? Because it is a mini plot. Let me show you: You have all of the ingredients:
  • Inciting incident: tension and issues leading up to the argument. An example being how Harry's constant popularity and not-always-super-considerate attitude can rub Ron wrong (Harry Potter). 
  • Rising action: the initiation of the actual argument. Like when Nancy starts getting annoyed with Steve for trying to move on with their lives and relationship after Barb's death (Stranger Things, Season 2).
  • Climax: the point where at least one character reveals something important about their argument, themselves, or the plot. An example being when Rocket Raccoon yells: "Well, I didn't ask to get made!" Not only did this explain his insecurities and reasons for always arguing with people, but it also created sympathy for him (Guardians of the Galaxy). 
  • Falling action: tension after the argument that are still there, but not existing inside of an explicit argument. The constant tension between Aragorn and Legolas after the "Then I shall die as one of them!" is a good example of this one (C'Mon. If I have to tell you what this is from, we're going to have issues). 
Pay special attention to the climax. It is important because it tips the reader off as to what the argument is truly about...or how the argument will change things for the rest of the story. A lot of arguments, oddly enough, leave this part out, thus begging the question: Was that argument really necessary? What was the point?

7. Don't be afraid of them. Look. People argue. It happens. It's totally fine for your characters to argue. In fact, if your characters don't argue, there's probably something wrong with your character development or tension creation (or both). So don't shy away from uncomfortable tension or conversation. It keeps your readers engaged.

Oh, and a bonus tip to give your arguments a point of interest:

8. Give your characters something else to do while arguing. Maybe they're doing laundry. Maybe they're forging a weapon. Maybe they're fixing a time machine. Give them something to do as they argue to break things up a bit. Not only does this keep you from having pure dialogue (which can get a bit repetitive), but it also gives you more room to play with body language, gestures, and eye contact.  

And there you have it. Luckily for you, I have and write a lot of arguments, so I'm pleased to be able to put my experiences to good use. Do you have any tips you would add? Ones you would take away? Do you struggle with writing arguments? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter!

Related articles:
Writing Dialogue: What You're Doing Wrong (And How to Fix It)
5 Tips for Creating Complex Characters

Enjoy this post? Take a look around. If you like what you see, please don't forget to subscribe by email for a new post every Friday! 

Some links are Amazon affiliate. Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Episode 3 of #ChatWithIndieAuthor: Kyle Robert Shultz

Kyle Robert Shultz is an amazing author of fantasy and re-telling-ish type stories (watch the video. That genre name will make sense afterwards). Today he talks about helpful writing tools, writing inspiration, favorite and least favorite fairytales, and more!
Kyle's newest book, The Stroke of Eleven, releases on November 30th. You’ll want to read it. Seriously. Look at how amazing it is.

Are you following Kyle online? Why on earth not? Go remedy this mistake immediately:
Interested in those writing tools Kyle mentioned? Find them below:
When is the next #ChatWithIndieAuthor episode? Excellent question! Wednesday December 27th will bring us a chat with E.B. Dawson. Have questions for her? Leave a comment below or on social media using the hashtag!

Like this video and want to support my writing efforts? Subscribe to my channel or buy my short story. Or both!

Related articles:
Episode 1 of #ChatWithIndieAuthor: S.M. Metzler
Episode 2 of #ChatWithIndieAuthor: Aria E. Maher + eBook Giveaway of The Tangle

Enjoy this post? Take a look around. If you like what you see, please don't forget to subscribe by email for a new post every Friday!

Some links are Amazon affiliate. Thank you for your support!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Why You Shouldn't Listen to Writing Tips Blogs

I see you're already not taking this post's advice. It says don't listen to writing tips blogs and, yet, here you are, reading this post. On a writing tips blog. What are you doing?

Fine. If you're not going to take this title at face value, I'm going to have to explain things to you in a little more detail: 

You shouldn't be listening to writing tips blogs. They have caused some alarming issues within the writing world that include (but are not limited to): Lack of originality, brainwashing, fear mongering, and all stories sounding the same. 

Yep. 

They're terrible. 

And I know me writing this post is the equivalent of Yoda saying that the Jedi high council is stupid and needs to disband. Errr. No. That's overestimating my importance. It's more like Obi-Wan Kenobi saying that. Actually, I'm probably more similar to Jocasta Nu, that one member that only really smart, dedicated fans know about. 

Anyway. I recognize that I'm about to degrade my own platform, but that's okay. Friends don't lie, so I'm not going to lie to you about this: Writing tips blogs aren't all that great. Here's why:
Why You Shouldn't Listen to Writing Tips Blogs
People rely on them to much. Don't know how to write dialogue? Read a blog post. Don't know how to write multiple POVs? Blog post. Trying to avoid teen character cliches? Post. Do you see where I'm going with this? People have become so reliant on reading writing tips blogs that it's taking away your need to think and read critically. Rather than choosing to think outside of the box with your dialogue, you get your information from somebody else (who probably got their information from somebody else). Rather than putting your own unique spin on POV writing or teen characters by pulling from your own brain or books that you've read, you're going to a secondary source. Ever wonder why so many books sound the same nowadays? This is one of the contributing factors. 

They're run by people with biases. We bloggers sure do come across as nice and smart and kind, but you know what? It's a lie. You have no idea who you are dealing with. You want to know what we're doing? We're persuading you. Persuading you to like us so that you will trust us so that we can somehow get money out of you. This persuading invariably leads to changing the way you approach writing. You didn't know this was happening, but it is. Good luck trying to work your way out of what ideas are yours and what ideas have been fed to you over the years by that favorite blogger of yours that you thought you could trust....Unless that blogger is me, in which case: You can totally trust me.

Or can you?

They preach rules that don't always need to be followed. Let's see how many of these sound familiar to you: "Said is dead." "Don't use prologues." "Don't use fragmented sentences." "The word 'was' is of the Devil." "Show, don't tell." "Don't go a long time without dialogue." "Write what you know." You know what? All of those rules are crap. Sure, sometimes they're good to follow. Sometimes they aren't. It depends on who you are, what you're writing, and why you're writing it. But a lot of writing tips blogs don't tell you that, do they? Nope. They just tell you what you can and can't do. Who are they to give you orders? They aren't the boss of you. 

They lead to lack of diversity. Because the above three points, they lead to writers all writing in the same ways. Nice little soldiers following the rules, relying on orders, and marching to the beat of somebody else's bias. Congratulations. Join the club of authors whose books all look and read the same. 

They are secondary sources of information. Why are you bothering to read these, anyway? You know the information us writing tip bloggers are giving you? It's just trickle down knowledge from books we've read. Novels we've studied. Human traits we've observed. Some of it gets lost in translation. Writing tips blogs are the equivalent of using Google Translate to translate something instead of going and talking to your bilingual friend. Read some books. Study them. That's where all of the information really lies.

And there you have it. You can go ahead and unsubscribe from all of the writing tips blogs you follow. Go on.

Wait, wait! What are you doing? Are you unsubscribing from my blog? No! Wait. I'm not finished yet. *quickly thinks of way to salvage the situation* Ah. Got it.
Writing tips blogs are not evil. But they're not the end-all of writing knowledge, either. It's alright to follow them, but it's not alright to follow them blindly.

And it's certainly not alright to use them as a way to avoid critical thinking. The truth is out there. Find it by reading some novels on your own. All of the information you'll mine from them is the same info you'll find on a writing blog...you just have to look a bit harder. But it'll build brain muscle, which you can then use for writing.

So go. Read your writing blogs if you want to (especially if it's mine. Mine is good). But use your own brain, too.

If you want, of course. We've already established that you probably shouldn't be listening to writing blogs, anyway, which also probably applies to this post. UNLESS that means that you shouldn't listen to this post about not listening to writing blogs, which means that you technically should listen to writing blogs.

Well. I have inexplicably developed a headache, so I'm going to leave you now. But, before I go, riddle me this:

What do you think? Is this post correct or isn't it? What does it mean? Is it ironic or true? Or both? Can something be both ironic and true? You tell me.

Have writing or reading questions? Use the hashtag #ChatWithHannah in the comment section below or on social media to have them answered on my Youtube channel!

Related articles:
9 Ways to Use Reading to Improve Your Writing
12 Writing Myths You Need to Stop Believing

Enjoy this post? Take a look around. If you like what you see, don't forget to subscribe by email for a new post every Friday!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

#ChatWithHannah Episode 5: Writing grief-stricken characters and non-preachy Christian fiction

Today we talk about writing grief-stricken characters, writing playlists, writing non-Bible thumping Christian fiction, and helpful dictation tools.
The video where I talk about music I listen to while writing can be found here.

Recommended C.S. Lewis novels:
  1. The Screwtape Letters
  2. The Great Divorce
  3. Till We Have Faces
The next #ChatWithHannah video is coming out on December 20th, so leave a question below or use the hashtag on social media to get answers.

The #ChatWithIndieAuthor interview with Kyle Robert Schultz will be up on November 29th, so if you have questions for him, use the hashtag below or on social media to let us know!

Like this video and want to support my writing efforts? Subscribe to my channel or buy my short story. Or both!

Related articles:
#ChatWithHannah Episode 4: NaNoWriMo Tips, Favorite Movies, and Overcoming Writer's Block
Episode 2 of #ChatWithIndieAuthor: Aria E. Maher + eBook Giveaway of The Tangle

Enjoy this post? Take a look around. If you like what you see, please don't forget to subscribe by email for a new post every Friday!

Some links are Amazon affiliate. Thank you for your support!

Friday, November 10, 2017

8 Non-Writing Activities to Help With Your Creative Process

I think it's a given that writers shouldn't be spending every moment of their lives writing. It's not healthy physically, and it's definitely not going to help your creativity. While we writers seem to understand that on a logical level, we still spend an awful lot of time on the computer doing writing-related activities (writing, pinning character look-a-likes, working our social media platforms, reading writing tips).

So here are a list of things you can do that aren't directly linked to writing, but that will still help with your mental process:
1. Get outside. Go for a hike. Or a walk. Or just sit and look at some trees or fields or bodies of water. Whichever one. Anything to get outside and away from your computer. No, you're not allowed to check your text messages or send out a tweet. Not only is hiking or walking good for you physically (exercise), but the amount of inspiration you'll get from the great outdoors is unlimited. It's important to unplug. Instead of staring at a computer screen, go look at a flower. Rather than hunching over a piece of paper, look up at the sky. There's an entire beautiful world outside of your writing space. Take advantage of it. 

2. Learn about something new. A few summers ago I took a world religion course that involved reading through this fascinating book. Not only was this a interesting topic that helped me have a better understanding of people (and the world in general), but it also gave me a lot of ideas for world building. Is there some skill you've been wanting to acquire or some piece of the world you want to understand? Then go chase it down. Read something by Plato, sign up for an archery class (bonus points if you dress up as Legolas while taking lessons), learn how to play the piano, practice some underwater bilingual basket weaving. Whatever it is that looks interesting to you. It's good to learn new things and broaden your scope. Writing is not meant to be a sole hobby. 

3. Do something artsy. Redecorate your room. Hang up posters. Paint a mug. Make a really pretty dish of food. Play a song. Crochet a giant X-wing blanket. If you have no artistic skill whatsoever, you can always dump glitter all over your bookshelf. That counts as artsy, right? Do whatever it takes to stop writing while still engaging in something creative. 

4. Do something with your hands. Gardening, cooking, washing dishes, rearranging your bookshelves, playing with a rubiks cube. There's something good about being able to unplug from everything and just engage in a simple, straight-forward task.

5. Watch a movie or TV series. I'm hesitant to include this one because it doesn't help with getting you away from a screen. However, on the off-chance that you're not feeling well: This is a good option. Try exploring foreign films or watching TV in an entirely different genre. This can help give you some fresh thoughts to bring to your writing. OR you could just watch Batman Begins and The Dark Knight over and over again. What? You're trying to tell me that that would get boring over time?? All I can say is....

6. Exercise. You know all off that caffeine and sugar you're consuming because you're convinced it makes you more of a writer? That stuff isn't good for you and needs to be burned off. And you know how writing for hours on end hurts your posture and can even cause you to develop carpal tunnel syndrome? That can be prevented by stretching out a bit. Whether it's yoga or martial arts or cardio or weight lifting, exercise is really important for your overall health. And there's something about the hormones released during physical work that can clear your head and give you new ideas. It's a scientific fact. I'd explain it to you, but...I don't want to. Ask Google. He seems to have more time on his hands than I do.

7. Talk to other creatives. Go have coffee with fellow writers, artists, photographers. Visit comic cons and chat with the vendors in artist alley.  Join a writing group. Leave your writing desk and seek out other people who are like you: passionate about their acts of creation. Their energy and ideas will rub off on you, feed you, give you a new perspective. If you're feeling particularly introverted: Try visiting a bookstore, an art museum, an amusement park. Look at the work of other creatives, study them, learn from them. Be inspired. 

8. Do nothing. Watch rain run down a windowpane, crash on your bed, take a shower, go sit out in the sun. Don't bring anything with you. No books. No phone. No paper and pencil. Just give yourself some time to relax and think.

In addition to these 7 activities, I recommend you read and implement this post full of tips for a healthy lifestyle. It's by friend S.M. Metzler, who is a fellow writer. She knows what's up. 

A lot of writers feel guilty when they spend free time doing things that aren't related to writing. Don't. It's good for you and it's good for your writing. So get off of your computer and go do things that those weird non-writer people like to do on their free time. It'll work out. I promise.

But, before unplugging, leave a comment below with your favorite non-writing activities! What are some things that get in the way of you engaging in them? How can you overcome these obstacles? I'd love to hear your thoughts!


Have writing or reading questions? Use the hashtag #ChatWithHannah in the comment section below or on social media to have them answered on my Youtube channel!
Related articles:
How to Stay Motivated to Write When Life Gets Hard
7 Tips for Balancing Writing with the Rest of Your Life
Why You Need to Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Writers (And How to Do It)

Enjoy this post? Take a look around. If you like what you see, don't forget to subscribe by email for a new post every Friday!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Episode 2 of #ChatWithIndieAuthor: Aria E. Maher + eBook Giveaway of The Tangle

I know, I know. #ChatWithIndieAuthor videos are only supposed to come out on the fourth Wednesday of every month and this is not a fourth Wednesday. So what's with the post?

I made a special exception for this video so that I could be part of Aria E. Maher's blog tour for her new release: The Tangle.

The Tangle is an amazing paranormal suspense novel that I instantly fell in love with. So much so that not only did I give it a rave review here, but I also have decided that I want to host an ebook giveaway for it.

Yup. The first ever giveaway on this blog. How exciting. This giveaway will run from 11/08 to 11/15, so if you're visiting this post between those dates: You're in luck! You get a shot at a free ebook. If not: Bummer. You should've stayed on top of reading my posts, shouldn't you have?

But, before we get onto the interview and giveaway, an announcement:

#ChatWithIndieAuthor is now available on iTunes as a podcast. *throws confetti* Now you can listen to me when you're out and about doing things like driving, washing dishes, or eating chocolate in a corner somewhere instead of writing your WIP. Awesome, right?

Now, on with the show!

The Giveaway 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Video 


Aria E. Maher talks about her newest publication (The Tangle), scaring herself while writing, inspiration for writing paranormal fiction, and more.

Giveaway for an ebook copy of The Tangle is taking place on my blog between 11/08 and 11/15: Enter for a chance to win a free copy!

Check out her newest release on Amazon.

All of her past publications can be found on her Amazon page.

Are you following her online? You should be. Swing by and say hello:
When is the next #ChatWithIndieAuthor episode? I'm glad you asked! Wednesday November 22nd will bring us a chat with Kyle Robert Schultz. Have questions for him? Leave a comment below or on social media using the hashtag!

Like this video and want to support my writing efforts? Subscribe to my channel or buy my short story. Or both!

Related articles:
Episode 1 of #ChatWithIndieAuthor: S.M. Metzler
#ChatWithHannah Episode 4: NaNoWriMo Tips, Favorite Movies, and Overcoming Writer's Block

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Some links are Amazon affiliate. Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

What is NaNoWriMo and Why Should You Participate? - A Guest Post by Rae Elliott


Yep. A post in honor of NaNoWriMo. You can thank me in the comments. Actually, thank Rae Elliott. She's here today to give us a talk about NaNoWriMo: What it is, why you should participate, and how to succeed. It's an epic post and helpful for everyone, not just people who are joining in on NaNoWriMo. So take a quick break from stressing out about NaNoWriMo or feeling sick after eating too much Halloween candy and read this post: 

“We wanted to write novels for the same dumb reasons twenty-somethings start bands. Because we wanted to make noise. Because we didn’t have anything better to do. And because we thought that, as novelists, we would have an easier time getting dates than we did as non-novelists… I think the scene—full of smack-talk and muffin crumbs on our keyboards—would have rightly horrified professional writers. We had taken the cloistered, agonized novel-writing process and transformed it into something that was half literary marathon and half block party. We called it noveling. And after the noveling ended on August 1, my sense of what was possible for myself, and those around me, was forever changed. If my friends and I could write passable novels in a month, I knew, anyone could do it.”

-Chris Baty creator of National Novel Writing Month and co-founder of Nanowrimo.org 

It’s amazing that a simple bet between friends eighteen years ago has snowballed into an annual tradition that now encompasses more than 310,000 adult novelists, plus an additional 89,500 young writers across the globe. Chris Baty and his gang expanded this annual event to 651 Municipal Liaisons in 595 regions, 650 Come Write In libraries and bookstores, and 2,000 YWP classrooms.

So what then, officially, must you do to be involved in this global event? Who can participate? What does one have to do to get their novel on board?
What is NaNoWriMo and Why Should You Participate? - A Guest Post by Rae Elliott

WHAT IS NANOWRIMO?


National Novel Writing Month 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.

If you want to participate officially in the NaNoWriMo challenge, you can visit NaNoWriMo.org/sign-up where you can be one of the many writers putting a fire under their bums by sticking to the official deadline.

After signing up, writers are then welcomed to join a forum of fellow writers sticking to the same word count goal and deadline. The forum is a great way to get support, discover tips, talk shop, and receive encouragement from other writers just like you. Not to mention, being part of the forum also acts as a great accountability booster!

IS NANOWRIMO FOR ME?


Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline,NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever considered writing a novel (even if you’ve never written one before!)


Still not sure if you should participate?


OK SO NANOWRIMO IS DEFINITELY FOR ME, BUT I HAVE A LIFE. 

I CAN’T JUST PUT IT ALL ON HOLD TO WRITE A NOVEL!

I have fantastic news for you friend: that means you’re just like everyone else participating in this event. So how do you do it? You absolutely can follow the outline and still live your life- promise! How can I be so certain of this? Because writers just like you have done it- plain and simple. If you’d like to organize your NaNoWriMo writing routine, learn how to write an awesome 50,000 word novel, and still live your life, then check out the NaNoWriMo Kit.

WHAT IF I DON’T WRITE 50,000 WORDS IN 30 DAYS? AM I A FAILURE?


The best part about participating in NaNoWriMo is that no one fails. Yes, the objective is to write a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days, but if you don’t achieve exactly that, then you’ve by no means failed. You’ve challenged yourself in a fantastic way that benefits your writing technique in the long run. Besides you can absolutely participate again next year and then you’ll be doubly prepared!

Writing everyday for thirty days straight will still have benefited you majorly. How so?
  • You’ll have gained a finely honed writing voice 
  • You’ll have built a healthy daily writing routine 
  • You’ll have gained an appreciation for discipline with writing 
  • You’ll have gained an improved sense of self 
  • You’ll have greater confidence to challenge yourself in other unique ways
So if you’d like to gain any of those things, then NaNoWriMo is still for you.

GOT ANY TIPS FOR SUCCESS?


Having a well-organized routine prepared ahead of time can help you write for success. Episode 4 of #ChatWithHannah discusses awesome tips for NaNoWriMo. I personally appreciated “Have an accountability partner to smack you upside the head.” I’ll need a couple smacks myself, I already know it!

Just remember that NaNoWriMo helps writers like you show yourself what you’re made of. I know you’re capable of achieving exceptional things and that includes #NaNoWriMo2017!

ABOUT RAE

Rae Elliott is a sci fi and fantasy author, writing tips blogger, bunny hugger, barrel rider, snack hoarder, and geek. It’s her strong belief that anyone can write a fandom-worthy novel. Find out more about her organizational tool kit for authors participating in NaNoWriMo here and visit her blog barelyharebooks.com

Awesome post, right? If you want more awesomeness in your life (which you honestly should. If not...why???), you need to follow Rae on her blog and say hello to her on social media! 

Also: No, this week will not bring you two posts. Today is it. No post this Friday. Sorry. Not really. You get one awesome post per week. That's should be enough, right? No? Bummer. 

Related articles:

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Friday, October 27, 2017

5 Tips for Creating Complex Characters

Do you want to know why I love Batman so much?

Bummer. I'm not going to talk about that today.

I'm just going to talk about one of the many contributing reasons for my love of Batman. That one contributing reason is his complexity.

Complex characters are some of my favorite types. They are rich, layered, and contradictory in all the best ways.

Oddly enough, complex characters can give writers a difficult time, possibly because they require a lot of thought, possibly because their personalities come with a lot of moving parts, or possibly because writers are scared that complexity will translate to hypocritical and unlikable.

That's what this post is for: To clear up any issues you may be having with your complex characters and give you tools to move forward and create something that is a Batman-level of awesome.
5 Tips for Writing Complex Characters
1. Give them contradictions. No, contradictions in character doesn't necessarily mean annoying or hypocritical or bad. Everybody has contradictory ideas and acts in contradictory ways. It's human nature. By infusing this element of human nature into your character, you are making him/her more realistic and interesting.
  • Joyce Byers from Stranger Things is an excellent example of an amazing contradictory character. She loves her sons and wants what's best for them. However, there are times when she is very hard on Jonathan for not picking up the slack that she has created in their home life. And she buys tickets for Will and her to see Poltergeist even thought it will probably scare him because she wants to bond with him. These actions contradict her love for her sons, but multiple scenes throughout Stranger Things shows that there is nothing she will not do to protect her boys. While her actions are unlikable at moments because of her contradictions, overall it gives her a human, realistic side that makes her triumphs all the more precious. 
In giving your characters contradictions, you make them more human, more complex, more relatable, and, ultimately, you give your readers more to think about and cheer for.

2. Don't be afraid to give them unlikable qualities. Many writers shy away from contradictions and inner flaws because they don't want to make their character unlikable. Don't worry about this. Unlikableness (Spell Check says that's not a word, which only makes me want to leave it in) gives your character something to overcome, which is not only a good basis for a character arc, but also encouraging for readers. Win win.
  • Prince Arthur from Merlin is a good example of this. Clearly, the guy has issues. Sure, he has a lot of good qualities, but he can also be entitled, insensitive, and rude. However, these flaws are all ones we see him wrestle with throughout the series. And they are also evened out by his good heart and innate desire to do right. He has unlikable qualities, but they add to his character rather than detracting from it. 
If a TV series can do it, so can you. Don't be afraid to give your characters some flaws. 

3. Don't forget about subtext. What do I mean by subtext? I mean don't forget to give your character underlying themes, motives, and beliefs. What emotions guide your character that may not be explicitly stated? What are some beliefs that he holds that shift subtly throughout the story? None of these need to be actually explained in detail, just alluded to. 
  • Ron Weasley from Harry Potter is a character steeped in subtext. He's always been overshadowed by his brothers, thus creating rarely-explicitly-stated conflict between himself and Harry. Being poor has given him issues of self-esteem, which shows itself in his tendencies towards deprecating others and needing to prove himself. But he also comes from a large family with loving parents, which is one of the reasons he ultimately sticks by the orphaned Harry no matter what. 
Subtext isn't just important for dialogue, so make it a point to give subtext to the personalities and actions of your complex characters.

4. Be intentional with their background. Their background should feed into who they are today: Why they are flawed, contradictory, and full of underlying motives. However, remembering the importance of subtext, recognize that you don't have to be detailed about the background. Some characters may benefit from having little to no background revealed about them, while others need their information rolled out at very specific points in the story. Think carefully about your character's history and decide how and when you want to dole out their background information.
  • Nell from The Haunting shows the perfect balance of background information flow. She has a history of supernatural events in her life which is important because it means that the haunted house she is staying in has a connection to her. This we are told right off the bat. However, we don't find out until later that these supernatural events have scarred her and left her less mentally stable than most. We also don't know until later that she's carrying around a lot of guilt related to her mother's death, which also makes her more susceptible to the haunted house. All of this information gives her layer after layer after layer, none of which are revealed immediately in the story. 
Ask yourself: What parts of my character's backstory are important to who they are? Do my readers need to know this? If so, when can I give this information in a way that creates layers rather than information dumps? 

5. Remember that contrasting and paralleling is important. Parallel your complex character with somebody who is similar to them, though different in very stark ways. Or contrast with characters who are completely, entirely different. Or parallel/contrast with surroundings. Or all three. This makes their complexities into even more of a statement, giving them an extra interest point. 
  • Batman from the Dark Knight trilogy is a favorite example of mine (surprise. He's pretty much my favorite example for everything). His thirst for justice is parallel with Raz Al Ghul's, but contrasts because he isn't as heartless or depraved as the leader of the League of Assassins. This showcases his complexities in that he seeks vigilante justice, but also draws a line with how he goes about securing this justice...even if it is sometimes a thin one. This same parallel is drawn between his personality and that of Gotham city itself (they are both dark and disturbed entities, but Batman has morals and works to do good). A contrast is brought to light by his interactions with Alfred, who is far more grounded than Bruce and selfless on a more personal level, making us wonder about Bruce's choices and motives. 
Contrasts can highlight the epic complexities that you have built into your character, so if you're proud of what you've created and want to show it off, this is the way to go. 

And that's all I have for you. Why are you still here? Oh. Do you have something to say? Leave a comment below and tell me about your favorite complex characters....or tips you have for writing this character type!

Have writing or reading questions? Use the hashtag #ChatWithHannah in the comment section below or on social media to have them answered on my Youtube channel!

Related articles: 
Unreliable Narrators: What They Are and How to Write Them
Writing a Compelling Hero: 7 Tips With Examples

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