Original 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!
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!
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.
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!
Todays 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!
Sometimes deciding who the main character is one of the more frustrating decisions at the beginning of writing the story. Not only does this include deciding on your main character but also who has the biggest character arc. Should the story take place from the brooding warrior or the nerdy tech guy? Who will the reader relate to the most? Do you want the reader to relate to your main character or do you want more of an anti-hero?
Character arc is the line from where your character starts on his or her journey to where she or he will end up. Uncontrollable events, or the inciting incident, at the beginning of the story should shove the character onto the adventure she or he never expected. Such as a rich aunt dies and your main character has to stay to take over the family business to get the inheritance or your character is bitten by a werewolf and has to learn what to do before the next full moon. This is the event that starts the exciting part of the story. After that the character goes through a building action until they reach the climax. Then end the story with a resolution. Try not to do a cliffhanger unless you know there will be another book because it makes readers upset when there is no end to the story.
If you look at some of your favorite books most will probably have the main character change, learn, and grow from the beginning of the story to the end (and not always for the better). This arc is usually needed to create tension and drama. Without the arc the story can fall flat and readers feel disappointed that the character didn’t learn anything or change at all from his or her new found experiences.
Remember the most important aspect of writing the story is writing about the character with the most arc. The character that grows the most throughout the story should be the main character. Without the change, readers don’t understand why the story happened in the first place. The story should be driven by the character’s experiences. He or she should be shifting as he or she makes his or her way through her or his story. By the end the main character should not be the same.
So decide on your main character and keep writing!
And Happy New Year!
Writing Wednesday on 12/12/12! So writing advice for this week is focusing on don’t edit while writing! The best way to get through our stories is to stop editing and just write. Creating the book (right brain) is different from editing the book (left brain). Don’t write and edit.
A great trick for this is making your monitor very simple is turn off the spelling and grammar check. Another great way is to turn off or dim your monitor entirely because you can’t edit if you can’t see the screen.
Challenging yourself to writing sprints is another great way to get the book completed. The idea is to write as many words as possible in usually 30-45 minute increments. Take a break between sprints but challenge yourself to write more each time. These sprints also keep you from editing especially when it’s about getting down as many words as possible.
Even though NaNoWriMo is over it is always a great time to dare yourself into writing so many words a day. This is a great way to set goals and time for yourself to get that book finished. Don’t forget to find time write every day.
I’m not sure if any of you are like me but when I write I like having a basic timeline idea for writing. There are also great books out there on getting your book out in a specific amount of time. My personal favorite is The 90-Day Novel: Unlock the Story Within by Alen Watt. Also good books on getting your book done is How to Write a Fiction Novel in 30 Days or Less by Nicholas Black and Write a Novel in Thirty Days by Sara McGrath. These are great books that are about getting the story out so you can concentrate on the editing later.
Don’t forget to challenge yourself and keep writing!