Looking back at my old (cringe-worthy) writing.

Hey everyone!

Today, I thought I’d show you guys a little snippet from my past writing. Now keep in mind, we all had to start somewhere. And that I am putting myself in an embarrassing  situation on purpose.

Let me set the scene. This was written in 2011 (practically 100 years ago) in a time when I thought writing was a fun little thing to do and not an actual craft. All I knew was that I loved storytelling, but I don’t think I considered myself a serious writer yet. I believe I was a senior in high school (or possibly a junior) when I got this piece of paper with a list of all the college majors. I was to choose one, a decision that would impact my future (because you know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life at 17). Checking off the ‘Creative Writing’ box seemed most appealing to me, at the time. Who knew it would be so important to me today?

This also dictated how I was to go about my senior project, which is sorta like a test drive for the field a student is interested in. Basically, for my project, I worked with an English teacher after school and I wrote a couple of short (horrible) stories that she critiqued and gave me notes on. I love super heroes and comics, even back then when I was young and impressionable. So I created my own super hero…. Kinda. The character’s name was Joey, he had some supernatural abilities, and was a guy juggling his masked vigilante life with his love life.

Don’t judge me, I didn’t know any better.  Here is a snippet of one of those stories.

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Wow, Majorly cringing. 

Like I said, we all had to start somewhere. Looking back at old stories, I really can learn from my past mistakes.  Here’s just a few I can pick out. (Translation: Me about to vent about how terrible this was)

  1. Fudge, look at that giant chunk of an intro paragraph.
  2. What a grabber of a first line. “The city was dark and gloomy” Really hooks in the reader right off the bat.
  3. I don’t think I knew about the ‘Show, Don’t tell’ rule at the time. That whole first paragraph could probably be condensed into like three sentences.
  4. It sounds how I would normally talk, not how someone else would. Big narration problem there.
  5. Are we watching Powerpuff girls? “Forces of evil” Seriously?
  6. “I want you to break up with me” Who was I? Trying to be so dramatic. Damn.
  7. Did my younger self actually think this was good writing?

Well, there you guys have it, an embarrassing look back at my old work. Don’t worry, I have no problem critiquing and making fun of my writing. Let me know what you guys think, and maybe take a look at your old cringe worthy stuff. I always love hearing from you.

Write with heart,
Lady Jabberwocky

Life is Short; Signing up for NaNoWriMo

I didn’t know if I was going to write something today or not. First and foremost, my thoughts and condolences are with those affected by the tragedy in Vegas.  The situation is truly horrible. It really makes me think about how short life is.

Before I heard about the Vegas shooting, I was planning to write a post about whether or not I should participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year. I’m an indecisive person who has a hard time getting motivated sometimes. I’ll be honest, I’ve been having moments of self-doubt in regards to my writing lately and 50,000 words is an ambitious goal (for me, at least). And then something like this happens, and it’s absolutely horrible… And it makes you want to take a chance and not live life with what ifs.  So, I signed up to be apart National Novel Writing Month.

It’s gonna be a challenge,  but I’m gonna try. Who knows if I’ll make it to 50,000 words in a month, but it could be a great adventure. I have really amazing support in my life, telling me to just go for it and see what happens. There is a story  I’ve been doing a lot of outlining and research for. I really just want to focus my thoughts on writing a larger piece. Maybe participating in NaNoWriMo will give me the push and the focus I need. No harm in trying, right?

For those of you that have had that NaNoWriMo experience, what was it like for you? Any Pros or Cons? I’m excited to read your comments.

Write with heart,
Lady Jabberwocky

 

 

Making faces while writing.

I may have embarrassed myself at the public library today.

I went to do some more writing, actually I finished a short story (Side note; I submitted the story to a literary magazine, hoping it gets published. Everybody, cross your fingers and toes for me). Anyways, I was fixing up this part of dialogue where two characters are arguing. And I was really getting into it. So much so that I think… I was making faces. Like sassy and pissed off kind of faces. Also, on top of that, I was jamming out to the Hamilton soundtrack, which means I was for sure chair dancing and lip syncing silently to myself. I must have looked nuts. But I wasn’t paying attention to what I looked like (a crazy person), I was focusing on my writing. But I think all writers do that, right? Make strange faces when their completely absorbed in writing a story. I’d like to think it’s the sign of a good writer, or at least a very passionate insane one. I say keep making faces, you guys.

Have any of you ever caught yourself, or has someone else caught you, making faces while writing? Or does this only happen to me? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear for you all.

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

Remembering Show, Don’t Tell

Had a pretty successful editing session today. I spent a good two or so hours at the library editing some short stories. Am I done? Probably not. Are writers ever really done editing? There’s always something. Something to add, something to tweak, something to just plain get rid of.

But I noticed I was making multiple corrections of a similar issue. At certain points in my stories, I was showing, not telling. If there is one golden rule of writing fiction that I’ve learned, it’s the rule of “Show, don’t tell”.

Let me explain real quick. “Show, don’t tell” simply means letting the reader experience the story through actions and senses instead of exposition. It’s a slight adjustment of word choice. For example, “I was nervous” compared to “My hands trembled”. See? By doing so, it makes for a stronger piece.

 So, I looked at my writing through a microscope and made some changes. I swapped out adverbs for more specific verbs. I crossed out parts that sounded like an explanation. There truly was, in my opinion, a noticeable improvement. I’m definitely keeping the “Show, don’t tell” rule in mind as I continue to write, and you guys should too.

Write with heart,
Lady Jabberwocky
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Rainy Day Editor’s Block

On this rainy and muggish day, I am plagued with Editor’s block. A similar ailment to Writer’s block. I’m working on these old stories of mine for some literary magazines I’ve been interested in submitting work to. I’m trying to make serious changes to them. Like the big kind of edits. For one story, I’m thinking of changing things like the central conflict as well as reworking characterization for most of the characters. The really integral nuts and bolts of the story. Ugh. This is where the Editor’s block comes in. It’s that slightly overwhelming and daunting feeling of “I don’t even know where to start”. It can be a stressful task.

 
So I took a break.
For both Editor’s and Writer’s block, taking a break can actually be very helpful. Just stopping for a while, walking away from the project, and collecting your thoughts is sometimes the best thing for the creative process. So that’s what I did. I took a break, had a Matzo Ball soup (courtesy of the local diner) and got comfortable (courtesy of cozy sweatpants). Pausing for a moment helped organized my ideas and really made be focus on the things that need to be focused on in my work.

 
Hopeful I write something good enough to get published this time.

 
Write with heart,
Lady Jabberwocky

Writing The Hero and The Villain

As I am writing this post, I am watching my boyfriend, Michael, play a tabletop game called Warhammer. From my understanding, it’s like Dungeons and Dragons.
Watching this miniature war unfold, It’s got me thinking about heroes and villains and the importance of a good conflict. I have this pet peeve of protagonist being perfect and over powered and overcoming obstacles with little effort, very convenient. Then you’ve got villains who are evil for no reason other than the fact that they are completely rotten to the core. Literally cringing while writing these pet peeves right now.
Real characters, like actual human beings, aren’t so black and white.
Let’s start with protagonists. Here are some key things to keep in mind when constructing a hero.

  • Goal: What is the hero’s motivation? Why are they doing what they are doing? Having a purpose gives your character, and the over all plot, a direction. Also it throws fuel onto the conflict fire (if that makes sense).
  • Be Real: Being realistic means having flaws. Don’t make your character too cookie cutter perfect. Readers relate to imperfections. We want to read stories with characters who have positive and negative traits, who face obstacles with some struggle.
  • Growth: Over the course of a story arch, the character at the beginning of the must be different in some way to the same character at the end. Think of us, as people. We grow, we evolve, we change, and we learn things. Fictional characters must do the same.

There’s been a “tragic” dice roll.
I suppose that’s a good enough transition to writing antagonists.

 

  • Goal: Like your protagonist, the antagonist needs solid motivation. Have them act with purpose, not just because their evil. If your villain wants to destroy a city, it shouldn’t be because they just want to ruin someone’s day.
  • Be Real: Even an antagonist can have positive traits. No one can be completely bad. As I said before, things aren’t simply black and white. However, your antagonist should have an intimidating presence, to the hero and the audience. There are some villains we just love to hate.
  • Integrity: Put up a worthy adversary against your hero. The villain should put up a fight and carry out every threat made. When Darth Vader said he was going to blow up a planet, he blew up a planet. If at the end of the story, the antagonist loses and cries “Curses! Foiled again!” then just melts into a wimpy puddle, you may want to reevaluate things.

And here’s a question; does the hero have to win every battle?
Take note of some of your favorite hero and villain characters and really think about what makes them great.
Write with heart,
Lady Jabberwocky.

hemingway quote

Putting things into perspective

One of the first things you must decide before writing a story is how the story will be told. What point of view is best for the story you want to tell? To me, there are three main narratives, first person, second person and third person. Other, more specific styles of narration are derived from these three forms.

First Person

Pronouns: I, my, me.

The reader gets to walk in the shoes of the narrator as the story unfolds. This means the reader has front row seats to this character’s feelings and thoughts and also how the narrator sees the world and other characters. It’s a very personal kind of perspective. However, by using the first person narrative, it puts a limit to what the narrator, and by extension, the reader, learns and experiences.

Second Person

Pronouns: You, Your.

This one is quite rare in fiction; It’s more for technical writing. “You do this, you see that.” It’s difficult to perfect, but not impossible, so don’t be discouraged to experiment with this style. Second person is like playing a choose your own adventure game, where the reader is a character.

Third Person

Pronouns: He, she, they.

Another popular option that gives the writer more freedom to move around, follow multiple characters and explore multiple rooms of the house, so to speak. It’s a more objective viewpoint, which can lead to a lack of connection with the reader. The audience is privy to more information about the plot, information the main characters may not even be aware of, but not the characters personal thoughts and feelings.

Omniscient Narrator

Usually third person

Now we’re getting into more specific stuff. With this one, the narrator knows everything, from feelings to inner thoughts. Think of it like a God like being looking down at the world and relaying the story. Some can argue that it’s the author themselves telling the story.

Unreliable Narrator

Usually first person

Some narrators just can’t be trusted. The viewpoint of this narrator is very biased. Other characters may not be described accurately because of the narrators own perspective. Certain events can be skewed. Even the narrator himself could be not what he appears to be (Check out the narrator from The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie).

Really take the time to think about whom the narrator will be and how well they can tell your/their story. It’s important for the reader to really connect and be engaged with the character or viewpoint chosen. If you are struggling to decide which narrative you want to use, try multiple styles. It’s like reading an essay for school out loud before handing it in. You’ll know what fits your story best when you read it.