Writing and College Apps

December 26, 2011 at 8:29 PM | Posted in Life, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Advice | 6 Comments
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As teenage writers, we have to deal with another obligation other writers don’t have to deal with as much: college. And our futures. How can one possibly find time to write when there are other issues like having a life, getting straight A’s, and completing activities that boost one’s impressiveness to admissions counselors?
Hey, don’t give up on writing just yet. The simple fact of it all is: colleges want to see your passion. If writing is your passion, stick with it! And besides, it can help your academic standing as well. I’ve listed some practical, real-life examples that could also further your acumen as a writer.

 

 

  1. Milk the CR/Writing portions of the SAT. These two sections were my biggest point-getters; math was my downfall. Still, you have that smug sense of superiority when you see the brainy math children struggle with the nuances of the English language. These reading and writing sections count for 2/3 of the test, after all!
  2. Self-study for the AP Lang/Lit tests. Your school doesn’t offer the class? Take matters into your own hands. Buy a few study guides, look them over during winter break, and talk to your counselor about ordering the tests in January, once you get back. The tests themselves are not hard if you’re naturally a good writer and voracious reader; AP English isn’t a class that needs to be taught as much as, say, AP Chemistry. It does cost money to take the test (some schools offer it for free—I know mine did), but getting a 5 and letting colleges see your intrinsic motivation is priceless.
  3. Become a leader and a writer. Does your school have a newspaper? A literary magazine? A yearbook? Get involved! If it’s too late in the year, ask about writing freelance. There’s always next year to apply for a staff position, and by then, the adviser will have built a good impression of you. You have a definite advantage over your peers when cranking it up for deadlines, soliciting businesses for ads (hey, you’ve been selling yourself in query letters, haven’t you?), and writing tight, informative articles. You’re already ahead of the learning curve, so it’s time to shine. Oh—and if your leadership helps your publication win competitions, all the more power to you.
  4. Look for writing-related internships or jobs. Some papers hire teens to do freelance reporting. Others print a mini-newspaper written by teens, for teens. A few even look for contributors to neighborhood-themed blogs. Thanks to the convenience of technology, you can often update a blog from the comfort of your own home. When you take the ten or fifteen hours a week that you once devoted to mindlessly scrolling on Facebook and put it towards something useful, you can see results that’ll help you get into college.
  5. Don’t give up! Colleges like to see you stick with a hobby—so even if agents didn’t like your first manuscript, don’t give up on writing entirely. Do what you can to build up your resume while staying involved, even if that means writing short stories or poems. Who knows? Winning a prestigious award would be a great way to demonstrate your skill. And if all else fails, self-publishing doesn’t hurt either; I know a girl who self-published a book and put that on her resume. Hey, though it might not count for anything in the literary world, it’s still something.

-linda

Interview: Susan Beth Pfeffer

December 22, 2011 at 7:56 PM | Posted in Authors, Interviews, teen fiction, Writing, Writing Advice, YA | 2 Comments
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YA science fiction – especially speculative &/or dystopian stuff, seems to be a rising market at the moment. And today, we have an interview with a pretty cool YA author who’s been writing some sci fi lately. You may have heard of her – she’s the author of Life As We Knew It, The Dead and the Gone, and coming soon, This World We Live In. So without further ado, presenting: Susan Beth Pfeffer!


Let’s start off with something fun. Your latest book, This World We Live In, is coming out soon. Summarize the book in twenty words – while tossing in as many alliterations as possible.
Lonely life. Laughter lingers. Longing looks. Loathing loses. Lust. Lying. Love lasts.
 

Very impressive – every single word! The Moon books seem to contain an element of speculative science fiction. Why this particular hypothetical future? How did these concepts come about?
I’ve always been intrigued by the fact that the moon controls the tides. And I wanted a worldwide disaster that wasn’t the fault of human beings (as so many things are) or something humans could change (since my main character was a teenage girl, and unlikely to save humanity). I also favored what I called a rolling disaster, one bad thing leading to another and another.

So I nudged the moon a bit closer to earth and tried to figure out just how bad that could make things. I have a basic sense of gravity, and I figured the moon’s gravitational pull could cause all kinds of miseries.

Which, thanks to me, it did.

Definitely original! Life as We Knew It, The Dead and the Gone, This World We Live In – all rather eloquently phrased titles. How did they come about?
My editor, or someone at the publishing house, named Life As We Knew It. My working title had been In The Sunroom.

Once I came up with the concept for The Dead and The Gone, I knew that would be its title. I zipped on over to Amazon to see if there were any other books with that title, and while there were a number of Dead And Gone(s), there weren’t any The Dead And The Gone, so I figured I was safe.

When I was trying to come up with the title for the third book, someone commented on my blog that the first two were five single syllable word titles. So I played around with various combinations until I came up with This World We Live In. Amazon didn’t show any serious conflicts, so that became my choice.

That’s smart, checking titles on Amazon first. Now, you’ve accumulated quite an impressive list of publications over the years. Is there one particular book you enjoyed writing more than the others?
I had a wonderful time writing all three moon books. I love the set up and the characters. When I wrote LAWKI it didn’t have chapters, and I think when I wrote d&g, I was reminded to put chapters in. Even with TW, the chapters were an organizing ex post facto addition.

I love writing books without chapters. There’s something liberating about not having to deal with that structure.

I wrote a book a long time ago called Courage, Dana, for younger readers. I remember really enjoying writing it. A tiny section of it is used on standardized reading tests, so I still make a little bit of money from it.

That’s really cool that it’s used for testing! If you could meet any character from any of your books, who would you chill with for a day? What would you guys do?
I introduce a new character named Charlie in This World We Live In. He’s your basic all purpose nice guy, and I think I’d enjoy spending time with him.

Since I mostly write for kids, I mostly write about kids. In real life, I tend to hang out with grownups. So I think Charlie would be the one I’d have the best time with.

I have no idea what we’d do though, since I only know him after the world has come to an end. That cuts down considerably on possible activities.

Haha, that probably would. If the apocalypse were coming tomorrow and you could only choose three books (in the entire world) to keep safe and bring into the “New World”, which ones would you pick?
Agee On Film by James Agee.
Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations
Church, State, and Freedom by Leo Pfeffer (my father)

Words of wisdom – what do you do when the muse has gone on vacation?
I go on vacation also.

I do a lot of pre-writing, so I always have some comfort level about what I’m going to be writing from one day to the next.

If I wake up in the morning with a big I Don’t Wanna, I simply give myself the day off.

It doesn’t happen often, but I respect it when it does.

Wise words. When writing, do you have any specific rituals?

I try to clean my home before I begin a book, have things all nice and tidy at least at the getgo.

And generally, I don’t read fiction when I’m writing.

Beyond that, I pretty much keep to my regular routines.

Outline first or writing on the fly?

Outline, outline, outline.

For the most part, I don’t outline on paper. But before I begin writing a book, I do an enormous amount of thinking about it. And when I’m writing, I focus on what’s going to happen.

I’m a very fast worker. I always have been. But the pre-writing lets me cut down on the rewriting, since I’ve worked out most of the problems before I start putting words on paper (or on screen).

There’s no right way or wrong way, and in the end it probably takes the same amount of time as it would if I sat down and improvised.

But my favorite part of writing is working the story out, and I always wait until I’m comfortable with the beginning, have a very strong sense of where the story is going to end, and am reasonably confident I know the middle, before beginning the actual writing.

More great advice! Really on a roll here. (And from peachiemkey of TWFT): What’s one hard truth you’ve had to learn about writing?
That just because I think something is wonderful doesn’t mean anyone else will.

I am my own biggest fan. I write the stories I would most enjoy reading. My primary goal in writing is to entertain myself.

Alas, not everyone else on earth has my exact taste.

 
Anything else to add?

Just that I’m very glad the world isn’t anything like the one I created in my moon books and that I don’t have to hang out with imaginary characters!
 
Thanks for joining us!

Interview ~ Jay Asher

February 25, 2010 at 1:10 PM | Posted in Authors, Interviews, teen fiction, Writing Advice, YA | 8 Comments

TWFT recently got a chance to interview Jay Asher, author of Thirteen Reasons Why. What a treat!

TWFT Summarize Thirteen Reasons Why in ten words or less.

Hannah committed suicide.  Clay listens to her recorded reasons why.

TWFT Who is your favorite character from Thirteen Reasons Why?

Tony.  When I wrote the scene where Clay “borrows” Tony’s Walkman, I didn’t have any plans for bringing Tony back later in the book.  But there was something about the guy which I immediately liked, and people who read that scene early on also liked him.  He turned out to be a very important character later in the book and I loved writing every scene he appears in.  I could probably write a whole book about him!

TWFT When did you first start writing?

I’ve enjoyed writing ever since I learned how to spell.  Regarding writing as a career, I wanted to write and illustrate my own comic strip for years.  If I could draw better, that would still be my fantasy job.  It wasn’t until my first year in college that I began writing children’s book in the hopes of one day getting published.  For about the next nine years, I only wrote funny books for younger children.  Thirteen Reasons Why was the first serious novel I attempted, and also the first book I wrote for teens.

TWFT Thirteen Reasons Why is quite a sad (but totally amazing) novel. Are any of the events that take place based on real life situations that you have experienced?

The scene in the Peer Communications class with the paperbags happened in my high school Peer Communications class almost exactly as it appears in the book.  We never found out who wrote that note, but obviously the class reaction left a big impact on me.  And when Clay first meets Hannah at the party, when he tries to tie his shoelace but his fingers are too cold, that happened to me at a party when I was introduced to the first girl I ever went on a date with.

TWFT Tell us about your querying process and road to publication.

From the time I first began submitting manuscripts to publishers back in 1994 to when Thirteen Reasons Why sold, twelve years had passed.  So this can definitely be a game of perseverance, as well as being willing to try different styles until you find your natural voice.  When my agent sent out this manuscript, it got rejected many times before it sold.

TWFT Thirteen Reasons Why is a very serious novel. Is there a message in the novel that you want readers to grasp?

As Hannah says, you never know what’s going on in anyone’s life but your own.  Someone who looks like they have it all together may actually be going through quite a lot.  And everyone handles life’s pressures differently.  While Hannah herself is not without fault, it still all comes down to the Golden Rule.  So that’s the main thing I was trying to say.  Always treat people with respect because you never know what else they’re dealing with.  As well, I want people who are hurting to realize how important it is for them to honestly reach out for help.

TWFT What was your inspiration for Thirteen Reasons Why?

I had a close relative attempt suicide when she was the same age as Hannah.  Through talking with her over the years, I began to understand how someone could get to that place where they completely lose hope of things getting better.  Around that same time, I took an audiotour and immediately thought that dual-narrative structure could be very powerful if paired with the right story.  It wasn’t until nine years later that the issue of suicide matched up with the structure.

TWFT Can you describe yourself as a teen in high school?

I was normally shy.  But when I got comfortable around certain groups of people, then I could be very outgoing.  I worked on the newspaper staff, but I was horrible and got out as soon as I could.  I played in a bunch of garage bands, playing guitar and singing, and I thought I was much better than I actually was.  I only really dated one girl in high school, and that relationship lasted two years.  I didn’t hate my teen years in any way, but I still wouldn’t want to redo them.  Those years were rather…blah.

TWFT If you could have dinner with one author, alive or dead, who would it be?

Stephen King.  Without a doubt.  And since he’s alive, there’s always a chance!

TWFT Do you have any tips for aspiring young writers?

Join a critique group where everyone gives each other honest suggestions for improvements as well as points out everyone’s strengths.  If you can find a group of writers like that, your writing will improve tremendously.

TWFT Are you currently working on another novel?

Yep.  Several!

TWFT Lastly, a TWFT tradition, what is your favorite flavor of jellybean?

Buttered popcorn.  It’s not that I can eat a ton of them…but they’re so fun to share!

Thanks for your time Jay! The last one made me crack up…

Andrew

On Perceived Snobbery

January 22, 2010 at 11:25 AM | Posted in Op-Ed, Writing, Writing Advice | 6 Comments

So my schedule this semester rocks. I’m taking two English classes – Myths of Britain and Intermediate Fiction I – an Arabic class that is turning out to be way cooler than I thought it was going to be, and my very last general curriculum requirements. It makes me ecstatic. Because after this semester (or so the hope goes) the only classes that I will be taking are classes that I want to take and am not required to take. I will be filling up my mind with all these lovely things that I want to fill my mind up with. Like I said – it makes me ecstatic.

But something about my creative writing class hasn’t been sitting well with me for the last couple of classes. I couldn’t figure it out, not for the life of me. My professor is pretty kick ass, my classmates are pretty amazing. There is nothing wrong with this class.

Except, you know, writers are snobs.

Now, before you all jump on me with all kinds of indignant shouts and protests, let me finish! Or correct myself. Writers have a reputation of being absolute snobs. When a person who is not a writer thinks of a writer, they imagine the starving artist, the person who has a superior insight into the human condition, the person who has been gifted by some divine light to put life on a page for all (or some) people to view with a renewed sense of being.

But I’m a writer, and I certainly am not any of those things. I have a talent (maybe) but I practice, a lot. I read, a lot. And I don’t think I have a superior insight into anything. I write what I know, what I feel and what I learn. I write what I imagine, what I fantasize and what I imagine other people fantasize. And I don’t like being put into a category that is elitist and snobby.

And that’s what bothers me most about this class. Because, accidentally (or purposely), the professor and my classmates have put themselves up on a pedestal. They have decreed (yes, it is a strong word) that they and their writing colleagues and better, in some form or another, than the common man. And that doesn’t sit well with me.

Do you guys ever feel that way? Am I weird to feel this way? Please – do tell!

Posted by Sumayyah (Cross posted to The Raven Desk)

Do you have what it takes?

January 16, 2010 at 8:00 PM | Posted in Editing, Reading, teen fiction, Writing, Writing Advice | 5 Comments

Are you supposed to be writing?

Now, don’t expect a happy encouraging post here. The job of this little post isn’t to assure you you can “do it.” It is to make very clear that some people just can’t.

We’ve all come in some kind of contact with them. We either know them personally, have heard of them, or… shock… read their (sadly) published novels. They are the ones that make us say “Hey, listen, the people who are meant to do this don’t need you taking up our agents’, editors’, publishers’, readers’ time. We have a hard enough job as it is.”

These are the people that have no business writing.

They are the ones who have grand ideas of what writing a novel is. They proclaim to the world that in a year or so they’ll have enough life experience to write the next great American novel but, in fact, it is simply that they don’t have the natural inclination to start as soon as the story hits them.

They pretend that the moments of writing must be perfect… the laptop computer must be new or the notebooks unsullied with grocery lists or the new pens have the smoothest writing in dark bold ink.

They bring hot beverages and soft music, to smother themselves in the writing mood they pretend must be there.

They are the ones who think writing a book is an easy way to make money from home, just write and submit. Unfortunately for the readers, these non-writers sometimes succeed.

Their ideas of writing fiction are simply fictional.

These are fakes who want to get noticed, not writers who live and breathe their characters, and how these characters are affected throughout a novel. We talk to our characters as if they are real, play the music that fits their moods, torture ourselves for hours at the desk chair telling their stories. We are the real writers, be we published or not.

Take this quiz to see if you are really a writer or are writing a novel for reasons other than ones you should…

And I say it here: I’d rather be a real writer and never be published, than a fake one who forces the readers out there to read my garbage. But that’s just me… sadly.

A Message from Monica Gellar

January 15, 2010 at 7:05 PM | Posted in Life, Writing, Writing Advice | 5 Comments

Who is this lady that is not you? you all may ask. That is Monica Geller. And she has a message for all you college writers that are returning to school. She knows that you have your time cut out for you. You’re probably taking four (or five, if you’re really insane) classes. You might have a job that sucks ten hours out of your week. If you’re really cool, you probably have to go to the gym at least once a week. Then there’s friends (please, tell us who invented them?). And papers. And studying. And of course, your highest priority, the writing.

But how do you plan on balancing such a hectic lifestyle. How will you do all of that, sleep, eat and keep a tight grip (or loose, your choice, really) on your sanity.

Monica Geller is here to solve your problems with a simple suggestion. PLAN. Preferably with a color coded schedule that works in bathroom breaks, snack breaks and eating times (sleep is flexible). Because if you do not plan, at least a little, you will never have time to do anything of value or merit. Your life will be one huge mess after another  and you will never get anywhere.

So Monica Geller implores you to planSchedule. Have a vague idea of what your day is going to be like. Or all is lost. Really.

Posted by Sumayyah (Cross posted to The Raven Desk)

Self Doubt

December 23, 2009 at 2:14 AM | Posted in Life, Writing, Writing Advice | 3 Comments

I usually don’t blog on Tuesdays aside from the teasers, but I’m not writing either, so I figure, why not, right? I’m sitting in my friend’s room, blasting music, and staring at a scene chart that was going so well until recently. I’ve been staring at this scene chart for the past two days. I’ve been trying to restart The Scion for the past two weeks. Up until a couple of minutes ago I had no idea what my deal was.

Then it hit me: I’ve been slumming in the ghetto of self doubt. -faints in shock-

I’m not one to doubt my writing abilities – and I don’t say that to sound braggish or pompous. But I’ve always firmly avoided self doubt because it’s crippling. It’s so crippling, in fact, that some writers become drug addicts and alcoholics to drown it out. So I block it out, and just write until I send my work to betas. Then they send me comments and I improve my work,  because I know it’s in me to make the work better.

And while this isn’t the first time I’ve been hit with self doubt, it’s the first time its been so insidious. It took me two weeks to figure out that it was burrowing its way into my skull and blocking the Muse and the Voices. But now that I know? Now I can fight it, now I can do breathing exercises and now I can look into the mirror and do corny self confidence exercises. Because, self doubt is a writer’s worse enemy. Too many commas is fixable. Too many adverbs is fixable. Run on sentences are fixable. Not having faith and trust in your own ability to not only write well, but improve (always improve) is something that will stop you in your tracks. It makes a difficult occupation nearly unbearable.

So do what you have to. Listen to self esteem cassettes, sing your own praises, have lengthy conversations with yourself. But whatever you do – never,  ever lose faith in your ability to write well and to improve what you may not have written so well!

contributed by sumayyah daud and cross posted to the raven desk

Surviving NaNoWriMo ’09

October 31, 2009 at 12:26 PM | Posted in Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Advice | 5 Comments

It’s time to NaNo.

Yes, it’s November again – time to attempt the crazy, impossible task of writing a novel in “30 days of literary abandon.”

Alyce has explained the basics of the insanity that is NaNoWriMo https://teenswritingforteens.wordpress.com/2009/10/24/you-must-be-crazy-nanowrimo-2009/ here so I won’t repeat what it is to you. Instead, I’m going for tips – and this is from a first time NaNo-er, so I’m learning more every day!

So, the first tip which seems to be the most important is to make sure you write at least 1670 words a day – if you’re going for the 50k goal, that is. If you’re going for 100k then you are mental will need to adjust that figure. Personally, I’m going to attempt to do more than that for if – and let’s face it, probably when – I run out of steam and start panicking.

Secondly, find some people who are also doing NaNo for support. Not necessarily people who you know in real-life – I have yet to convince any of my friends that they should be doing NaNo, and there’s only seven hours ’til kick-off here! – online people are just as good. I have some of my lovely twiftie friends taking part, and have joined my region on the NaNo forums. I’m actually going to a kick-off meet up with the local WriMos tomorrow – which should be exciting! (Obviously, if you decide to do that, remember all the internet safety stuff you’ve been taught. :) ) Support makes you less likely to fail because – well, people will know you’ve failed, and that doesn’t feel too good.

Download a calendar. Even if you just use it for your desktop, I’d get one – there are loads on the artisans section of the forums and on DeviantArt too – and they’re great for motivation. Motivation is key.

Find sites like ‘Write-Or-Die’ – a nifty little website which forces you to write. I’m serious. You may not produce your finest quality work, but this is NaNo – it’s quantity over quality. Go and get scared into writing!

Now my next is just how I feel, and I know people who disagree, but I would suggest not planning. Planning means you have expectations – expectations which may not be fulfilled when trying to write 50k around all the usual school/work/life/other writing commitments. I have a basic idea, but no real plan – I’m seeing where the magic of NaNo takes me.

Last point – plenty of caffeine and chocolate. My chosen source of caffeine is Diet Coke – and I’m stocked up ready :D
Good luck to everyone who’s taking part, I hope you all win – leave a comment here with your tips, and your NaNo username if you’re signed up and want some buddies! I’m NKD on there, and always looking for more friends to motivate me!

Only a few hours to go…get read, get set, NaNo.

Interview with Lisa Mantchev, author of EYES LIKE STARS

September 21, 2009 at 8:52 PM | Posted in Authors, Interviews, Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Advice, YA | 1 Comment

Recently I got the opportunity to interview Lisa Mantchev, whose AMAZING YA fantasy, EYES LIKE STARS, came out a few months ago. I thought I’d share our short conversation with you guys. :)

KB: Describe your novel in twenty words or less.

LM: Beatrice Shakespeare Smith lives in a magical theater with all the characters from every play ever written. 

KB:  Where did you get the idea for EYES LIKE STARS?

LM: ELS started life as a short story entitled “All Her World’s A Stage” and THAT started with Bertie’s full name… it just popped into my head one day as I was writing something else entirely. 

KB: It’s a GREAT name. :) Do you usually try to follow an outline or are you a “pantser”?

LM: A little of both… I outline, and then wander all over the place as I work through a first draft. Some of my favorite scenes were never part of “the plan”… like the Tango Scene. That was inspired by a season past of So You Think You Can Dance, something I was watching in the evenings to decompress after a day of putting down new words. 

KB: Haha, awesome! (That was one of my favorite scenes, actually.) There are so many fun, quirky characters in ESL – I particularly love Ophelia and her obsession with drowning. :) Did you set out to create this cast or did they kind of tackle you and demand to be in your book? (Maybe that’s just me…)

LM: The Players just showed up… the fairies, Ophelia, and Ariel all arrived as-is, with their personality quirks and in full costume, ready to go. Nate turned up in a revision, when the Sea Goddess/scrimshaw plotline was added in. 

KB: I am SO glad Nate found his way into the cast. *hugs Nate* Can you tell us the story of that first call from both your agent and editor?

LM: Would it be bad to admit it’s been so long that I can only remember bits and pieces of those calls? I remember my pulse thudding in my ears, and taking lots of notes, and trying to not sound like a raving idiot (which I might have managed… I’ve blocked that part of it out!) I remember asking Jean Feiwel what her favorite scene was, and she liked the Tango Scene the best (hooray!) The thing that clinched it for my agent was the musical number “What Will Become Of Us,” which was originally a little bit longer with even more bad poetry. *L* 

KB: Do you listen to music while you write?

LM: Depends on the day… some days I need absolute quite to get words down, other days I’m listening to everything from techno dance music to the soundtracks to Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo. I have friends that will verify that I have Really Awful taste in pop music. ;) 

KB: Oh, so do I. *wince* Can you give us a teensy weensy summary of PERCHANCE TO DREAM, or is it very tightly under wraps right now? (The fangirl in me hopes for a small peek…)

LM:
 Anything I could say about Perchance To Dream is a spoiler for Eyes Like Stars, so I’m waiting for the Official Book Jacket Copy to share anything about book 2. Sorry!! 

KB: Dang it. *pouts* Oh well. I guess I can wait for next year. :D Last but not least – what is your favorite flavor of jelly bean?

LM: Tangerine Jelly Bellies. My mom always put those in my Easter basket (mixed with Lemon and Lemon-Lime… that combination always makes me think of springtime.)

Thanks again for the interview, Lisa, and for your awesome book!!!

*

Learn more about Lisa and the players of the Theatre Illuminata at www.theatre-illuminata.com

 

The Benefit of Being You

September 18, 2009 at 3:10 PM | Posted in teen fiction, Writing, Writing Advice, YA | 1 Comment

guildwars2-18I am a self professed dork. Perhaps this makes me less of a dork, or more of a dork, but either way, I am a dork. It’s one of those things I say with a grin and a laugh and revel in. It’s a part of me that I really love because it gives me the excuse to be quirky, or weird and forces me to push the limits of my imagination more than I think I might have otherwise. As a dork I’m confronted with amazing creativeness everyday in gaming experiences, fanfiction readings and general interaction with other dorks and non-dorks alike. Because of this, I constantly push myself to go above and beyond the creativity that I encounter, to be more original, more vivid, more astounding than what I’ve seen.

More than once I’ve reaped the benefit of this. Tonight, is one of those nights.

For the past three weeks I’ve been stuck on the plot for my next work in progress. I kept trying to start but it wouldn’t flow. A few days ago I realized that my biggest problem was two fold: 1) I was seriously lacking in world building and 2) one of my plot points had effectively taken away anyway for my main character to have motivation. She was invested in the storyline, but for the first act and a half she was just kind of floating along in a ‘oh, that happens? so what?’ kind of way. Even world building – which I was having a hard time with – wasn’t fixing this problem.

Then, I watched the Guild Wars 2 trailer. I saw a piece of concept art pictured in the trailer and bam! it was like being hit with a bus. I suddenly had a new dimension to what I wanted to write. I had motivation. I had not one world, but two that were forced to coexist and constantly battling against one another. My character was not only invested in the conflict, she was a part of it, a Prime Mover in everything that was happening. I knew why she was, how she was and what she was.

And though I’m still ironing out plot points and character flaws and I need to rewrite much of my story arc, I’m ecstatic. I know what my worlds want, what my character wants, and I’m starting to understand how it all needs to happen.

The moral of the story? Never underestimate yourself. I’ve written about listening to your characters – but a central part to being a writer is understanding what you can give to the worlds that you create. And how. Draw on your experiences, your personality, what you love and hate – these are things that you should listen to. And just like when you listen to your characters, when you listen to yourself, magic is bound to happen.

~Sumayyah (x-posted to the raven desk)

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