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Guest Blog Caitlin Ricci: The Time I Almost Quit

The Time I Almost Quit

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I had a book come out that didn’t go quite as planned. When I write I put so much of myself into my work that its hard not to be attached to the finished product and so when the book got positive reviews from blogging sites in its first week out I broke my biggest rule and read the reviews. I was excited as it seemed like people loved this new book. That is an amazing high and I should have stopped there. But then the negative reviews started coming in and I couldn’t look away. Like a train wreck I watched as something I loved was torn apart. Negative reviews aren’t new to most authors and I’ve had my fair share. You have to develop a thick skin to be able to handle this business.

I followed my own advice and went back to work, finding a way to ignore the reviews and instead focusing on the kind words and the edits that my publishers were giving me. I always have deadlines and it was easy to get lost back into them and forget that reviews are opinions and I didn’t have to listen. But then I started getting messages and these weren’t so easy to ignore. My friend told me that sometimes readers seem to forget that there are people behind the books instead of unfeeling machines. The notes I was getting would not be something someone would have said to my face and yet they were coming in over email and facebook. I wanted to argue and its hard to stay silent when someone is blatantly wrong about something in a book that you love.

Fans argue over books all the time. Who should Bella have ended up with? Why did Snape have to die? These are questions that fans of these series go back and forth over. But when an author speaks up and says something of that nature it is seen as wrong and bitchy. Fine, I stayed silent. We authors need readers and reviewers. I understand the relationship and the line that authors walk. We write the stories, readers hopefully read them, and reviewers give the readers honest opinions of our work to help the readers make their buying decisions. It is a system that often works perfectly well.

But after so much negativity I considered not doing this anymore. I didn’t see the point of it when I put so much of myself into a book and got only pain in response. I quit my job and stopped going to college for my books. I wasn’t sure if it was worth it anymore.

My guy then sat down next to me as I lay crying on the bed with our dogs around me and told me that I couldn’t quit. I had to stop looking at reviews but I couldn’t quit. He had a lot of reasons and though they all made sense, there were a few things that really stuck with me. Writing keeps me sane. I need to do this and I’m lucky that I have something that I love to do and that makes me happy. I also need to be home for the dogs. They are much happier with someone at home with them. By working at home I don’t have to go out when there are eight inches of snow on the ground and I’m expected to still get to work. I get to wear lounge clothes and make big dinners all while making imaginary people fall in love.

Sometimes opening yourself up is hard. It can come with a backlash of hatred. But if its something you love to do then maybe its worth it. I had to remember to stay away from reviews. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re toxic. But remembering to protect myself so that I can focus on what I love to do is the most important thing for me being able to continue writing. And in the end I write for myself. I think its wonderful when someone connects to my work. That is a great feeling and one of the highs of being an author. But I do this for me and for my family and because I have this need to get characters out of my mind to make room for new ones.


Nuts and Bolts: “Thought” Verbs Essay by Chuck Palahniuk

Heart Book on DeskOriginal Chuck Palahniuk’s “Thought” Verb Article Here

I fell in love with this article. I found it very challenging and wanted to share the thoughts with you.

Chuck Palahniuk has writers looking at the thought verbs and instead of telling your readers what they think or feel, you lay it out in detail and have the readers see what the character sees. I found this a unique way of getting into the characters head and pulling the readers into the story.

In the article he challenges writers to get rid of the “thought” verbs and change the writing to sensory details. Get rid of the knows, thinks, hates, and loves and start giving the detail of what the characters hear, see, smell, taste, and touch.

There are great examples in the article so please check them out.

I think this goes deeper than looking at just the show don’t tell but he actually has writers looking at why characters know, think, feel, believe…you get the idea. Not only does this help in developing your writing skills but also helps get your readers into the depths of why they feel the way they feel.

There are many writers who don’t agree with the theory, after all no writer has the same voice but this is definitely an article to take to heart. Even if you don’t agree it is still a tool to add to the writing belt.

Remember how important it is to improve ourselves and keep writing!

 


Creating Conflict

One of the best ways to analyze your main character is to look at his or her morals. What is the one thing that they would never do and what situation would be that exception. If your character has a tendency to lie, especially to get things he/she wants, ask yourself in what situation would he/she stop lying and start telling the truth?

Some of the best stories are the ones where characters are thrown into situations where they wouldn’t usually find themselves. Place your stuck up corporate guy in a tattoo parlor or get your shy werewolf in a karaoke sing-off. Seriously, put characters in situations where they are uncomfortable and learn how he or she will react. The story doesn’t always have to follow these situations but these are great ways to get to know your characters and how she or he would react to strange situations.

Another great way to start building conflict is to know your characters basic needs like life, love, or money. These are all things that people, your readers, can relate to in most cultures. Take what your character needs away and surround it with fear of loss and conflict can begin to build.

Conflict also goes with the antagonist. Whatever your main character wants the antagonist wants the opposite. This doesn’t mean your antagonist is evil (well not to himself) it means that he has a perfectly good reason to want just the opposite. Think of this conflict as the game, both the main character and antagonist want to win but only one of them can have their way.

Creating conflict comes from opposition. Emotional conflict is just as important as physical conflict. In some cases emotional conflict, especially in books, is vital in developing character relationships and getting readers pulled into the story.

So create the most intense conflict you can think of and keep writing!

 


Point of View

One of the most important things we have to decide when writing is the point-of-view (POV). The most important thing to consider when deciding the POV is deciding your main character and if secondary characters also want to show their point-of-view. This is especially true in romance, many of the stories are written from the viewpoint of the two main love interests usually in third person. Although I have read a few that are in the first person. Just remember to stay consistent throughout the book. (But even then there are exceptions to the rule such as American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis, which starts in first person and ends in third).

First person POV is limited to what the main character can see and feel. This is especially great for emotional connection to a character and individual character growth. The third person POV can be more flexible and doesn’t depend on staying on one character throughout the entire book. For third person try to keep a limit on the number of POVs in one scene because the reader can become confused on who is thinking and doing what in the scene if the POV keeps changing too much.

The character’s POV also has to do with your character’s reveal. The POV can explain characters personality traits such as confidence levels and what is important. Do you want the reader to know everything up front or do you want your reader to slowly learn about your character in phases as the story progresses? I have mixed feelings on this. Honestly, it has to do with the writer.

In my experience, I find I get bored when information is poured into me in the beginning of the story. I just want the story to get started. But remember readers are all different and some prefer the details of the characters and plot placed for them in the beginning. If you can keep your reader interested while you spill out all your character’s information, I say more power to you. Remember this also has to do with your character. If they are the type to lay it all out on the line then do a reveal in the beginning. If they are more the type to get the action started and explain later than start with action.

Remember this is your character’s story and they have a way of telling you how they want their story told. So choose a POV and keep writing.

 


Writing Inspiration

Inspiration to write can come at anytime, usually when there isn’t a pen & paper or computer to type on. How many times have I been standing in line at the post office or waiting in the doctors office when suddenly a really great story idea hits? I also find myself repeating the idea over and over in my head so I don’t forget it while I find something to write on. Thankfully my phone has a “notes” app on it now so I can easily jot down story ideas as they creep up at the most inopportune times.

I know I like to watch music videos for story inspiration. Music videos can hold some of the greatest visuals while the music musters up feelings of inspiration that may stir ideas for a story. Some of the best story ideas come from a variety of places ranging from artwork to music.

Another great spot for story ideas is dreams. The worst time is always dreams for me, the story idea is usually wonderful but why does it have to be at four in the morning? I can hardly focus to get the idea down and then I’m ridiculously tired the next day for work. But it was worth it…right? Dreams are a tough because you have to get the idea down right away or the story will start to fade. Keep something to write on by the bed and write it down right away so you don’t forget the story.

The best way to fight writers block or get ready to write the next big story is to get away from the blank page and visit websites or blogs that inspire ideas. This does not mean start wasting your time on Facebook. It drives me insane when I hear people complain they don’t have enough time in the day to get what they want done, like finish their story. Especially when I see them posting something on Facebook or Twitter every five minutes. Trust me you have time, you’re just wasting it.

Watching a TV show (one or two episodes not a whole season in one day) or a movie can help inspire ideas. I find that reading a book when I get frustrated with my story is another way to keep me writing. Remember when you read anything that the author also started with a blank page as well.

Don’t plagiarize, these inspirations are here to help you get the story moving not to copy.

So get inspired and keep writing!

 


My First Contract

17947308-Rose-Close-UpI officially signed and sent in my first contract! I’m going to be published and I’m very excited!

It will be for an anthology that some local authors have put together. I cannot wait to start the process. This will be a wonderful experience and I want to learn as much from this as I can. I really hope that this is the first contract of many to come! 🙂

So trust me when I say if I can do it anyone can! Know that you can do it and keep writing!

 


So over the D.I.D.!

Heart BookTodays writing Wednesday is on the hopeful death of distress. The D.I.D. is your typical “Damsel in Distress” or in m/m romances the “Dude in Distress.” I hate these stories. Yes, this post will be a pet-peeve rant that I hope writers will take to heart if not into their stories.

I’m tired of reading about the weak character falling into some ridiculous trap and the stronger character having to save her or him. The worst in the genre is usually heterosexual (HET) romance. I cannot tell you how many times I have read a story that started with a strong and powerful female until she found her love partner. Once she starts falling the girl turns into this needy, pathetic thing who can’t even tie her shoes without her man’s help or approval.

I’m not going to lie, the gay romance genre is just as guilty in creating this pitiful creature. I’ve read plenty of m/m stories where the “weaker” or bottom man is strong and powerful until he meets Mr. Right and then becomes a fumbling idiot.

I get if your character is clumsy and out-of-place. I get that she or he is the smaller and therefore a weaker character to begin with. I even get if your character is human struggling through a world of vampires. But what I don’t get is the dependence of your man (or in really rare cases of your woman) to get the you out of the mess you just got yourself into. Haven’t we grown past these stories?

Reading these stories I mostly just get confused. Why does love make us weak and dumb? Aren’t partners supposed to be equals? If a character got him or herself into the situation then she or he needs to get out of it on their own. Or if anything the two main characters need to get out of the problem together. See…partnership.

So create those strong characters, preserve that strength, and keep writing!


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