September 26, 2011

The Handy Book of Villainous Dialogue

My crit partner Anna wrote a fun and informative blog post last week about antagonists and dialogue.

One of the danger zones when fleshing out characters is the overuse of cliches and cliche-like dialogue. The heroes talking like heroes, the damsel in distress talking like damsels in distress, and the villains talking like, well, the villains. *laughs* This creates a one-layered depth to the character - something that would either:
a) incite some eye-rolling from the reader
b) make them stop reading completely because the characters seem so predictable or
c) wonder what the hell they're still doing reading something that feels like it's been overdone loads of times when they could be watching the new episode of True Blood instead.

All those aforementioned things = BAD

Check it out

Have a great week, guys!

September 19, 2011

Beta Match - Are you looking for a critique partner or a beta reader?

Rachel Harrie, our Campaign General, has a Beta Match post for writers looking for critique partners and/or beta readers. I thought I'd take this opportunity to refresh an old post of mine about the value of CPs.

So What Makes a Good Crit Partner?

Well, that answer depends on what you want =D

Better bloggers have said this before, but I think it bears repeating. When looking for a crit partner, keep in mind the following:

1. Goals - What do you want from a CP? Frank, brutally honest feedback? Line editing? A friend and cheerleader? Your goals should match up, at least mostly.

2. Understanding - Even if your goals match up, it doesn't help if you don't click as people. No one wants to take critique from someone they don't respect or like (no matter how accurate the critique might be).

3. Skill - Ideally, you want a CP who is either a better writer than you are or who is at the same level as you. I say this because I've improved by reading those better writers, and if I could get their feedback on my writing? Score! But with a CP at the same level, you get to learn together, and that can oftentimes be even more rewarding. Of course, I believe that every writer has something unique to offer so as long as you can find that CP who makes you look at your manuscript in a new and better way, I'd say you're fine =)

Personally, the best thing about having more than one crit partner is that each one tends to have their own strengths and weaknesses, and there's a really neat balance that forms. I have something to learn from all of my CPs, and that's what I love every time I pick up one of their chapters to read.

Great places to find crit partners:
Rachel Harrie's Beta Match
Maggie Stiefvater's 2011 Critique Partner Love Connection's Crit Seekers Group
Adventures in Children's Publishing: Alpha & Beta Reader Exchange
Natalie Whipple's Crit Partner Classifieds
Nathan Bransford Forums
Let the Words Flow Crit Partner sign ups

CPs: Friends and Comrades in Arms. Or like a squad of vampire hunters--you can always rely on them to stake you if you f#@! up and get bitten ♥

Good luck finding yours! ♥

September 12, 2011

When Music and Writing Collide - by Anna

Today, I'd like to welcome my first guest post, woo! Meet my fantastic critique partner and friend Anna from Anime's Musings. If you've got time, please stop by her blog as well and check it out. I love her posts!


When Music and Writing Collide by Anna

Musical impacts on writing projects are often tell-tale. More often than not, for those that work with, live, and breathe music, there isn't a single scene written that isn't fueled by its influences. This isn't true for all writers, however, in my experience, most write with the help of those muses. Melodies could be playing quietly in the background to drown out all other noise, or blaring inside the writer's head with the help of trusty earbuds, but always ever present.

Music has always been present in everything I've ever written. Actually, it's present in everything that I do. I can never go anywhere without my iPod and there is never a car ride that goes without tunes. I find that the type of music I listen to always sets my mood. This is a good preparation for any scenes that I need to write or emotions that I want to convey to the reader through the pages. The varying beats and rhythms in each song tell a different story and in turn, help the writer to incorporate those differences in their own story. Ever been blood red pissed off and turned on Yiruma's River Flows in You or Debussy's Reverie? Or emo sad and turned on Train's Hey Soul Sister? I don't know about you, but the aforementioned songs are a few examples of ones that instantly change the mood I'm in.

Along with mood setting, music also helps with thought processing. I always have a jumble of thoughts floating in my head (okay, more like beating the crap out of each other for space in my head *laughs*), and music helps to act as an organizer, a sifter of sorts, so that I would be able to pull out those thoughts that I need for whatever I'm doing at the moment. This goes for all activities, but for the purposes of this post, we'll focus on writing.

Have you ever had an instance happen when you hear a song from your past and you're instantly reminded of an event? It's because we're programmed to connect our senses to different catalysts. Music is a catalyst. We immediately connect it with events, with emotions, with certain people - depending on what was happening at the time we heard the particular song.

I've gotten accustomed to assigning songs to different scenes that I write. Most times, in preparation for a particular scene or to help me pick back up from where I left off in the scene, I use the song to get my mindset back to that time, that place, with those characters, and the emotions they were feeling when we last parted.

How does music tie into writing for you? Is it helpful when constructing scenes, plots, characters, etc.? Do you work better with or without it?


September 5, 2011

Drafting and Editing from Artwork to Writing

Happy Labor Day! ♥

In the first draft of a wip, I write quickly. I don't focus on details, but I give a general idea of what I want to get across. Emotion is at its most basic. Stage direction is kept to a minimum. Setting is bare bones, and the dialogue is often stilted and unnatural. As long as I get down a general sense of setting and what needs to happen both internally and externally to move the story along then that's all I need for the time being.

Just like in writing, when I draft a new art piece, I start messy. Quick, unrefined lines. Basic outline. Overall flow. No real idea yet of a background, but an idea of my light source and what I want to convey.

I am going to let you guys see a tiny snippet of the first draft of my wip to demonstrate. Be warned, it's pretty awful lol.

First drafts:
He grinned and gestured with his head for me to follow him. We headed down the river, along the opposite bank across the docks. The Labyrinth loomed behind us as the river snaked north and the continued east towards the old freight yard. Like the Labyrinth, the residents here lived in boxcars, but they were place in rows, one level only, and with enough space between them to provide an illusion of property. It wasn't much, but Avan had beamed the day he told me he'd moved out of the apartment above his dad's shop.

Terrible descriptions. Typos. Flat. Blegh.


Messy. Rough lines. Basic idea.

On my second draft, I'll typically rewrite the sentences, this time choosing my words more carefully. I'll flesh out the descriptions to paint the image of the scene I initially had in my head.

In art, likewise the first I do is redraw the lines. Clean lines this time. Then I begin to block in color and work in large details at first before narrowing down on the finer ones.

Second drafts:
He grinned and, once we reached the other side of the river, gestured with his chin for me to follow. We walked along the bank, the waning light turning the river to ink. We kept above the sinking mud and the stripped trees that stood like pale corpses in the gloom. The Labyrinth loomed behind us like a black shroud across the sky as the river turned north, and we continued east towards the freight yard. Like the Labyrinth, the residents there lived in boxcars, but they stood in neat rows, one level only, and with enough space between each to provide the illusion of personal property. It wasn't much, but the happiest I'd ever seen Avan was the day he moved out of the apartment above his dad's shop.

Better, but now it feels too wordy. I will have to refine in my next draft and be even pickier about my word choices.


Clean lines. Color and light source are laid out.

With each pass, I refine and refine. Add details. Take details away. Make sure the whole picture/scene blends together.

Keep going until you're done!


Of course, my wip isn't complete yet so I don't have a final scene to show you =P But you guys get the idea ♥

Any of you willing to share a paragraph of a first draft and then compare it with a recent version? *bats eyelashes*

Have an awesome week, guys! ♥

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