Update 9 June 2017

No updates in my story today. I have spent all day writing and re-writing my outline and summary for the second arc for my story. I changed the a lot of things about the beginning of the second arc so I need to change my plan for the end of the second arc so the next few chapters will be later than planned. I also want to start sending my story to beta-readers soon so I am currently editing/re-writing from the beginning. If you are interested in beta-reading let me know.

 

Thank you.

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Goals for June 2017

June has just begun and I am really behind on my ideal post schedule (1 post per day) so I set myself some goals that I really want to accomplish. In the ed of June I will see how many I managed to achieve!

  1. Get at least a 150 views
  2. Get 10 more followers
  3. Publish 30 posts
  4. Finish the first arc of my story and start the second arc
  5. Edit the first half of my first arc
  6. Get beta-readers for my first arc
  7. Write 10 chapters of my new arc
  8. Write 4 non-story related blog post

Writing LGBT+ characters

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There is terrible lack of diversity and even when there is diversity it is often not done well. Just having a LGBT+ character for the sake of having a LGBT+ character can sometimes be worse than not having any at all. Being gay is not a personality trait! Being gay can something that defines a character but it should not be the only thing that defines a character. Sexuality defines you as a person because society defines you by your sexuality. When you are writing a LGBT+ character you need to be aware of how their society thinks of or treats LGBT+ people. Especially if your character is in a contemporary story the climate they live will shape their behavior.

A few things to think about when writing about LGBT+ characters.

  1. How does the society in your story treat or think of LGBT+ character? Do they treat lesbians and gay men differently? Do they treat trans men and trans women differently? What does your society think about queer people, non-binary, pansexual, polysexual, asexual etc.
  2. Everyone is a little bias and close-minded. Even if your main character (queer or not) will have their own biases. No one is perfect because most biases are unconscious and are ingrained in us. Your character working through their own hang ups can be part of their journey. There are gay men who are sexist, trans people who are racist and bisexuals who are homophobic. Be aware of your own biases because they do translate into your story.
  3. Is your character openly LGBT+ and to who? A character can be open about their gender and sexuality to their friends but not to their work, family, school etc.
  4. How are they treated because of their gender/sexuality?
  5. Avoid stereotypes. This can be difficult to avoid because there are people who behave like the stereotype and their are people who do not. Sometimes I feel that writers will have stereo-typically gay character but have them only as sidekicks and or background characters.
  6. Sometimes you just cannot relate. If you are heterosexual and cis gender you just cannot relate to LGBT+ characters. You do not know how they feel or how they behave. LGBT+ people have to think a lot more about things straight do not have to bother with.
  7. Not having LGBT+ characters does not make your story homophobic/transphobic. Having LGBT+ character does not make your story not homophobic/transphobic.

Do

  1. Do research. Talk to LGBT+ people about your character or simply about their experiences.
  2. Do add LGBT+ characters if you want to, even  if you are not LGBT+ yourself.
  3. Do add different LGBT+ characters. Not just gay, lesbians and bisexuals. Add trans people, queer people, asexual people, poly-sexual people, demisexual, intersex, non-binary, gender fluid etc.

Do not

  1. Do not make your character stereotype but do not pretend they do not exist.
  2. Do not make their gender/sexuality their entire personality.
  3. Do not add LGBT+ characters simply to add diversity.
  4. Do add LGBT+ characters to simply kill them off (or try not to). It is a morbid cliche at this point.
  5. Do not make them magic because of their gender/sexuality. Sometimes writers can try too hard and make their LGBT+ character so amazing they are not realistic and are basically magic.

Adding LGBT+ characters are great! Their is a severe lack of them and many people are starving for them. Although I think sometimes people tend to like character who are not that great simply because they are desperate for any LGBT+ character (me included). I think people tend to forget how important media can be in influencing your perception of LGBT+ people as well as to come to term with their own sexuality/gender.

Writing an outline

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Everyone has a different approach to writing stories, some just get down to writing and other make a detailed plan before even tying a letter. Personally, my approach falls somewhere in between.

Method 1 

  1. Write a list of key events, characters, foreshadowing, plot points etc…

Is that all you need? Then you are done.

Method 2

  1. Write Character profiles
  2. Write a key events and plot points
  3. Order events and separate into chapters and arcs
  4. Fill in the details, backstories, subplots and connecting events
  5. Order everything again
  6. Write a timeline of events and figure out how long they take and how they overlap
  7. Write a summary with a lot of detail

Method 3

  1. Write summary. Start from the beginning and write to the end in order. Write what feels natural and flows best.
  2. Read what you have written
  3. Re-write the summary
  4. Repeat step 2 and 3 until you are satisfied

Did you get stuck? Write something to get to the next event even if it is silly or contrived and come back to it later and change it in the re-write.

Method 4

  1. Start writing

Yeah, sometimes just writing works too. Did you get stuck? Write something, anything and come back to it during editing. Hey, if you wanted to be organized you would have chosen a different method and started with a game plan.

Method 5

Do whatever you want. It is your story do what works for you!

 

I use method 3 because I think it creates some organisation but is very dynamic and the least stressful. I also end up adding the most random stuff to the story which end up being my favorite parts. I have recently been writing the outline for a new story which ends with an abrupt alien invasion. I do not know where it came from but it just fit.

Why make an outline for your story?

When writing a story, first piece of advice most people will give is to first write an outline for you story. This can be very useful method and it will be as complicated as you make it.

Disadvantages

  • It takes forever to do!

Depending on how complicated and detailed your outline is it can take hours or even a few days if you run into plot holes or get stuck at certain plot points.

  • You need to already have created a character profile

This is very important because sometimes when writing you come to a point and think, ‘this won’t work. My character won’t do that!’ This can mess up your story because you can either follow your initial plan and make the character inconsistent or change the story which creates other messes. Evolution of a character happens before and while you are writing them, so when you are writing your outline you need to think what will my character do here? Why would he do it? How does this make them feel?

Personally I try to think of a backstory or just have an idea of the environment they grew up in. For example with my character Castor, he grew up in a palace where there is a lot of dishonesty, politics and betray so he does not trust anyone. He does not for a long time talk to anyone about himself and is always nice to people even disingenuously. He is also very naive and tends to make rash and frankly stupid decisions because he is grew up sheltered and is inexperienced.

  • You might hate your story

This is both an advantages and a disadvantage. Sometime your ideas are just not good or just do not make sense. Often you cannot tell if the idea is good or not until you write it down. This can be upsetting but in the long run it will save you from wasting time on a story you will not end up finishing or end up hating. Plus the sooner you realize the problems the sooner you can fix them.

Advantages

  • Always know what to write

Outlines act as a guide so you always know what to write next and are always clear of what you are writing. It is lot easier to create set-up when you know why and how it is important to the climax. Knowing what is going to happen and what part of the story you are writing helps with the pacing, foreshadowing and help avoid plot holes.

  • Works out the kinks

Usually if there is a part in your story that you get stuck at or just does not make sense you can catch it in the outlining stage. Fixing it sooner will make writing the story a lot easier. It will also be possible to eliminate tangents and loose threads, since once you write an outline you can find incomplete arcs and inconsistent plots.

  • Know what kind of story

Until I finish my outline I often do not realize or see what kind of story I am writing. This is beyond the actual plot or genre, for example tone, message and subtext. The tone I think is the attitude and feeling a story conveys. This can impact the pacing and style you choose to use. The message is basically what you want to tell your reader through your story, what impact do you want your story to have on them? In my current story is a fantasy/adventure/romance but the overall message is that it is okay to be selfish and to do what you want without feeling guilty. Subtext is saying something without actually saying it using very suggestive descriptions but not actually describing what you mean.

  • Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing is great and outlines help you know what are the plot points you are foreshadowing. As well as figuring out the optimal place to put the foreshadowing.

 

An outline can be very useful (I even wrote one to write this blog) but it is not necessary, you should write how and what makes you happy.

Thank you.

Creating compelling characters

When writing a story the most important thing one must focus on is creating a compelling character. I am not here to tell you the dos and do nots about writing about or even creating a character but there are a few things you need to think about.

  1. Why should the reader care about the character? When someone is reading a story they are looking to get something out of it. Maybe it is learning, catharsis, or even just entertainment. The difference between an ok story and a good story is whether the story had an effect on the reader. Will they think about the story after they finished reading it? Will they want to read it again? The best way to evoke these emotions is to make the reader genuinely invested in the character. Do they want to be the character or do they want to be with the character?
  2. Make the character likeable This is probably just a personal gripe but very often I don’t actually like the main character. It is never ok for a character to be disliked by the reader because if they don’t like or don’t care the reading experience us terrible or just boring. There are lots of things th a Make a character good or bad but the reader must always agree or understand their actions. Your character can be selfish and cruel but the reader must always root for them. Readers want stories about good, decent people doing heroic things and if your character does do something selfish or morally grey you NEED to convince the reader it was right thing to do.
  3. Give your character goals and motivation Even if your story is very short you need to give your character a clear goal or motivation. Having a goal will make the reader want to see your character accomplish it and the reader will feel.very satisfied once they do. The more dedicated and motivated your character is the more invested the reader will be. Even if it takes a long time and the character gets side tracked they should always be motivated by their goal even if it vague like to survive, to go home, to be the best, to defeat a foe or even just to grow.
  4. Make the character relatable The characters I enjoy the most are the ones I relate to the most. This maybe selfish but everyone is at least a little bit narcissistic. The more similar their goals or insecurities are to your own the more easily relatable the character is and the more invested you get. Something a lot of writers do and is very successful is to make the main character as plain and generic possible so the reader projects themselves onto them. The main character becomes more like an avatar of the reader than a character. This can make your main character boring but will make the reader easier to relate to them.
  5. Don’t make the character too powerful too early or easily Unless you are writing a male/female power fantasy DONT MAKE YOUR CHARACTER OVER POWERED! Your character can be the most beautiful or very talented but they cannot be the best from the beginning. If your character is too powerful or everything seems to take very little effort there are no stakes since the reader knows the character will never lose. Everything they achieve should at least seem to take some effort and this will make every achievement and victory feel more satisfying. If everything is easy for the character the reader won’t be emotionally invested. If the final boss is easy it won’t have an impact. Even if your character is talented or the chosen one they should continuously grow and the final obstacle should always seem too difficult or impossible to achieve.

When writing one must think of more than getting from A to B to C. Your character and the journey should make an impact on the reader.