Writers Resources

This tag is associated with 8 posts

Flash Fiction – Harder than it Looks

I finally completed my first attempt at flash fiction and submitted it to Flash Fiction Online.  What an experience!

Initially the story, currently titled Uncommon Magic, was somewhere around 1065 words, which would have been acceptable as long as I would be willing to cut it down to 1000 or less if it was actually accepted.  However, in the true spirit of flash fiction I wanted to trim it down for a couple of reasons.

One is that I’ve read so many books, blogs, etc. which all agreed writing short fiction is extremely difficult because every word has to count.  Since this was the first story I’ve written in years, and since it was purely for myself, for a sense of fulfillment, I decided to give it everything I had.

And secondly, why would anyone submit something that wasn’t finished to the point that it could realistically stay in its current form if the long-shot, one-in-a-million chance, happened and it was picked to be published?  I’m now at the point that I can’t imagine having to change anything else in it.

I now fully understand what I’ve read – that it truly is all about revision.  It several hours total revising a three and a half page story.  I can’t imagine the struggle involved in revising a 300 page novel.  I found I was able to mold Uncommon Magic so that the main character had more personality and I could see the scene around him when I closed my eyes.

If it’s rejected, which I’ll be sure to pass along, I’ll try submitting it to a few other markets just to test the waters and if nothing else, I’ll be posting it here.

Uncommon Magic

Total Words = 997         Total Time Invested = 8+ hours

Flash Fiction Resources Needed

This weekend was a productive weekend for me.  I finished the book I was reading, which I’ll leave a review on shortly, and am really looking forward to starting Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time by Mark Adams.

More importantly I took my first swing at writing Flash Fiction.  After completing a first draft on Friday, and four combined revisions over Saturday and today, I think it’s in its final state.  It’s of the fantasy genre and comes in just above one thousand words at 1065, which I know may need to be trimmed down depending on where I decide to submit it.

That’s where I need help.  If anyone has any good resources or online mags that they’d suggest I take a look at, I’d really appreciate the advice.  I’d like to compile everything onto a single page here.

I found one of interest to begin – Flash Fiction Online.  It’s an online quarterly recognized as a professional publication by the Science Fictions Writers of America.

Thanks everyone

Character Creation – Thoughts on Character Sheets and Generators

Before I broke ground on what will hopefully be my first completed short story (should finish the first draft this weekend), I fell into what many seem to find – the spinning black hole that is research, research, and continual research.  Looking back, I wish I had kept track of the enormous amount of time I wasted.  I’m sure it’s a ridiculous number, however, I did find a few diamonds sites that will continue to prove worthwhile.

Part of my research focused on character creation, more specifically how a writer’s characters take shape and come alive.  I’ve never had a problem with putting the basics on paper but was and still am very interested in hearing how others do it.  There is a ton of material out there for this, especially if you count the character sheets and generators normally used for role-playing games.  Since my initial writing will be in the fantasy genre I ran into a ton of that type of thing.  I actually stayed away from them and kept my search pointed toward those websites and resources focused on helping writers.

There are two main websites the proved extremely helpful.

1.  The resource page of National Novel Finishing Month

2.  The Seventh Sanctum

Each of them have more materials than I’ve even used at this point, but I really like the generators on The Seventh Sanctum and the character sheets on NaNoFiMo.  The generators are amazing.  While I haven’t used anything exactly as it was ‘generated,’ I have used it several times when I hit a block on how my new character, Yuri, might act or some of the experiences he might have.

The character sheets, on the other hand, I honestly haven’t used much but can see how they’d prove helpful.  My thought is to establish the basics of who Yuri is and then let him evolve before working on things like his background story, motivation, etc.  I did start out with a basic outline of his character but found that as soon as I started writing him into his current situation, he changed tremendously.  He went from an elf, to a dwarf, to a gnome, which of course meant that most everything else had to change too.  We’re now to the point that I can mentally see him and feel like I’ve gotten to know him, so maybe I’ll fill that sheet out again in the not-to-distance future.

If anyone out there has had experience using anything similar, please feel free to comment.  I’d still love to hear how others develop their characters, and whether or not you’ve had success with things like the generators or character sheets.

Cheers!

Mad Hatter Miscellany – A New Start and a New Look for 2012

Readers,

I spent the majority of this past week thinking of what I hope to accomplish in 2012, both with my writing and life in general.  Some people make one resolution and try to stick with it throughout the year, but I’m more of a list person so I’ve made a list.  Yes, I included everything from my list.

  1. Worry about what I can affect, accept what I can’t.
  2. Get published at least once – whether it be a short story, poem, or any other creative work.
  3. Bench press my weight at least once (I used to be able to do 1.3 times my weight, years ago).
  4. Keep my blog updated with at least one post a week.
  5. Be a better brother and son.  Call my Mom and Sister at least once a week.
  6. Make 2 new, good friends.
  7. Travel to at least one new place, out of State, this year.
  8. Go to Church at least 3 times a month.

So far, I’ve already made changes to Mad Hatter Miscellany which should help me be a more consistent blogger.  It had gotten to the point where I was putting in a ton of time researching what I wanted to write about.  I wanted it to have a definite focus and eventually found myself with tunnel vision.  Going forward, it will continue to have a creative-writing focus, but I will also allow myself to go off on tangents.  You may see a post about a great short story followed by comments on investing.

I am about halfway through a new short story that I’ll be submitting to publishers as soon as all my revisions are done.  Wish me luck!

Lastly, thank you to anyone and everyone out there who take the time to support the writing community.  Most writers hold day jobs and hone their craft in their spare time, so taking the time to comment on a post or leave feedback in Amazon on one of their short stories or novels goes a long way.

Happy New Year and here’s to a great 2012!

Nick

April 2011 Poem-a-Day Challenge

Readers,

While perusing the Writers Digest website, I came across their poetry blog, Poetic Asides by Robert Lee Brewer.  The blog regularly has guest posts with great advice and information, and Brewer does a decent job of leading writers with weekly writing prompts.  You’ll see your typical amount of Writers Digest product placement for their magazines or books, but not in a way that distracts from the real intent of the blog.

The main reason I’m sharing this is Brewer’s March 1st post.  Poetic Asides holds a Poem-a-Day (PAD) Challenge in April that is open to anyone.  The guidelines can be found here but in short, here are some details:

  • Runs April 1 – April 30th
  • Daily prompts will be posted on Poetic Asides
  • Poets can post their poems directly in the Comments section of the website or pick their best 5 and email them to Brewer by May 5th.
  • Brewer will pick the top  50 poems from the contest and name a Poet Laureate

While I have no illusions of making the top 50, submitting 5 new poems by May 5th based on the prompts should be do-able.  I will do my best to remember to post my submissions on here as well to get your feedback. 

Let me know if anyone else out there will be taking part in the contest.  I’m interested in seeing how much interest this contest creates and would love to read other writers’ submissions.

Cheers and Happy Writing!

~ The Hatter

As I Look Forward to Spring – Emily Dickinson’s Poem 812

Emily Dickinson

Image via Wikipedia

Readers,

If any of you have had an injury that kept you relatively immobile and generally stuck indoors, you’ll easily understand the following.  I’m two and a half weeks into what will likely be a six-week hiatus from normal life.  Not that it’s all been bad, but there’s definitely a pressure building, a need to escape… back to the real world beyond this house.

For today’s post, I’ve included a poem by Emily Dickinson which speaks of the scientifically unexplainable contentment that comes with Spring.  As the days grow longer and the daily temperatures rise, I’m struck by how creatively perfect this poem is.  One of the most pleasant aspects of my job is my morning drive in the Spring.  The wisps of fog rising across the open fields, a hint of daybreak shining across the horizon, it all provides for a flawless morning of reflection and gratitude for the gifts in my life.

Also, notice that she capitalizes the word ‘Light’ in the first line, giving it an almost god-like quality.  In doing so, she helps to increase the reverence justifiably felt for this most natural occurrence.

I truly can’t wait for Spring…

               812

A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay —

A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.

               ~ Emily Dickinson

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did and I look forward to your comments.

The Hatter

My Weekend Routine with an Online Writing Community

Readers,

This morning, I caught myself going through one of my most enjoyable weekend routines and thought I’d pass it along.  I absolutely love to sit comfortably in our den with a nice mug of coffee and spend some time on Writing.com.

This morning I realized that many people out there may not even be aware that Writing.com exists or what it is.  Writing.com is an online community for writers and readers, where people can share their work.  Members are able to review the writers’ works, take part in contests or writing prompts, and support each other in many, many ways.  I treat it more as a quick hit for reading and reviewing, but have taken part in some of the small writing events.  There are also support topics and advice forums for aspiring writers as well.  The beauty of it is that it can be a different experience depending on what you’re looking for. 

The posted works are also in several stages of completion.  Some writers have written and posted full novels and been through the editing process several times whereas others will post a chapter at a time as soon as they have the final word in place.  It can be very interesting to watch a work evolve over time.  Other members, like myself, take more of a reader/reviewer role giving support and advice where we can.  And of course, I’m sure some people purely read various postings without getting involved, which is definitely okay too.

It can become an absorbing website though.  Several times I’ve found myself with 3 or 4 hours less in my day because I’ve gotten overly involved in reviewing an entry or writing an entry for one of the contests.  Normally, at least one time each weekend I’ll sit down and log into Writing.com to take a look at a new author or to see if some of the authors I’m following have posted anything new.

I highly advise, if this sounds at all interesting please take a look at Writing.com.  If any readers do join or are already members, don’t forget to say hello.  My handle is The Hatter.

Enjoy!

The Hatter

People Watching – A Creative Writing Project

Readers,

It’s amazing how much a broken ankle is a perspective changing event.  Suddenly, I can’t go outside by myself for fear of slipping on the ice.  All the small things are now so much more time-consuming and difficult.  I now understand why elderly people will fight tooth and nail to keep their right to drive.  Mobility means so much in this world. 

Since I have so much free time and the lack of mobility to do much with it, today I’m going to bring back a past-time from my creative-writing days.  People-watching.  Not in the sense of making fun of people but in a more constructive way.

Here’s the process. Go to a comfortable place with a fair amount of public present – i.e. a coffee shop, mall, etc.  You’ll need a notepad and a pen or a laptop. Coffee shops are generally my favorite because the clientele tend to stay longer than what you might get in other public places.  Find somewhere comfortable to sit and then just look around. 

Take in your surroundings. Make notes on the background sounds, smells, overall atmosphere. Then take a look at some of the people around you. Find someone who catches you as interesting.  This will be your character. They could be very similar to you or you could be complete opposites.  You’ll find that the type of person you focus on will change every time you do this.

Once you’ve found your character, you have two main options on how to write. You can try to put yourself in their shoes, making their story as realistic as possible for this person.  Or you can just write, using the real person as a starting point but not worrying where their story takes you.  Now write. Write their background, their life, why they’re in the coffee shop, anything that helps explain who they are.  Spend at least 15 minutes continuously writing, with no pauses.  Don’t stop short though, if 15 minutes isn’t enough just keep going.

Once you’re done, relax and give your character a name.  Then put your pages away and don’t look at them for at least a day.  This will give you some separation before you do any revising.

If any of you should happen to do this, let me know how it goes.  I’ve always been a huge fan of people watching and really enjoy taking it this extra step.

The Rabbit Hole

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