Friday, December 2, 2016

8 Ways to Break Writer's Block

You jump on the creative train and the passengers are missing. 
You check the first train car: conductor gone.

There's no one to help you but you. Happens to the new and veteran of the writing realm. What do you do? You don't know so here's what I do. It may not work for you. These are just ideas to get it going again.


1. Start on something you are not supposed to be doing. Or you are supposed to be doing but didn't want to do in the first place.

I'm very serious. When I worked, my creativity bugged the crap out of me when I was actually working on work, instead of working on drawing or writing. I can't explain it. Ask a neuropsychologist. Ask my neuroscience professor. She was amazing. It's like when you're not thinking about it, stressing that part of the brain, your brain can relax. It's like your brain had to go pee, but you're staring at it, waiting for it to happen. The brain can't go when you're creepy. So do something else and it'll be able to relieve itself.


1) Re-read your work! Get back into your story! Haven't written for a while? You might have to read your entire story to get the feel for it again. Sit down, pen 'n' paper close to you, and just read it. Don't focus on the errors, focus on the tone and plot. You need to understand your protagonist again and you need to see where you might have been going with the book.

If I'm stuck, I read the chapters that are huge in plot info. Like a plan that the characters are about to go through or a secret that hasn't been spilled yet. Jot it down so you remember when you start writing again. Need posties? Use them instead. Super Sticky Post-It notes are amazing to keep on the wall by your writing space.

2) Read someone else's work. I got the Longmire series handy because I love his active voice and simple sentences. I get into the mind of Sheriff Longmire and it's peaceful how he is attentive to detail but oblivious to people's romantic interest in him. He remembers what people wear or how they talk. Craig Johnson, author, keeps you in the mind of the sheriff by focusing his perspective in places with sharp prose. They're light reads for a reason. He's very good at getting the point across without sacrificing setting or inner drama. (You might have read elsewhere I love's not even my genre to love, yet here I am.)


1) I know this seems backwards, it's not. Write something you know you can keep writing about. Doesn't have to be your story. Example: I have three projects, two are fan fictions because they're fun, the other is my potential money-maker so that remains top priority. Go through your fun writings, ones you don't have to worry about getting wrong or beating a deadline, or whatever your case is. Write your fan fic, or write something that excites you, or just write about your feelings. Maybe dive into writing about your character's feelings. Free flow writing can really help break that block.

2) Write about writer's block. You'll be researching all the ways to break it, then you write about it, and you end up with an entire blog. (Oh look at that. I just did what I said. Ha!)


1) 30 minutes of working out helps blood flow and boosts your body and mind. Endorphins, anyone? Don't go killin' yourself on some hardcore workout though. You need you to be able to sit at your writing nest for the next couple hours. DO NOT EXHAUST YOURSELF.

2) Download the Charity Miles app on your phone then go for a walk. Walking is a nice way of getting fresh air and experiencing outside. You get to smell and feel the environment around you. Your brain will go elsewhere and maybe that triggers something to write about. Have Notes or a voice recorder app handy.

I learned a few days ago that Don Brown takes workout breaks to keep the blood flowing. He'll do push-ups by his desk, so if this is my advice to you, and a renowned author also does it, then it must be good!


1) Drive to a destination. I once drove to a different place to buy food because I wanted to experience a different ambiance. I went to an asian market and type in Notes everything I smelled and felt. These are things books can do but movies can't: get you to feel what the character feels. Some books are straight up cinematics. You don't want that. So get all your senses in gear and drive somewhere. Did you know walking downtown New York City smells like warm, poopy diapers? Those big crates you walk over on the sidewalk wafts up the sewage and that's what I smell. It's pleasant to me, but could be nasty to someone else. Write everything down!

2) Drive without a destination. Scenic routes and a quiet drive might help you unwind. I don't recommend the freeway; go some place where you don't have to look every three seconds to see if someone's gonna cut you off. Go rural if you can. Once you know you can't worry about anything, your mind opens up, and thinks freely.


1) Make a playlist for your book or character. Got specific scenes that go with some of the music? Play it. Over and over, if you want to. There's a rhythm for songs, there's rhythm for chapters.

2) Listen to your favorite tracks, instrumental or vocal. If it's your favorite, your brain will love it.


1) Caffeine. One cup of coffee is good for a mental boost.

2) Nutritious meals that incorporate carbs, protein, and vegetables in one fill your stomach, and helps you focus. Starving yourself starves the brain and makes you cranky. Don't do that. Eat something.

And if all else fails...


1) Chances are you're overloaded, burned out, or whatever you wanna call it. Take a day off and sleep on it. You can choose to just take a nap, or just not work on your book at all that day, take the time to relax, forget about the book, and then go to bed your normal time. Then in the morning (or when ever you write), you're refreshed, and good to go!

If this list isn't exactly what you're looking for, I suggest this: 6 Hacks to Motivate Writing.

Tell me what works for you even if it's not on this list. Have you found something that helps you break writer's block? I wanna know about it!

Cinder and the Mean Book Review of Blunt Truth

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)Cinder by Marissa Meyer

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I write. I'm an INTJ. My opinion will offend a lot of feelers out there who "loved" this book. But I can tell from the majority who 5-starred this that they do not have the capabilities of sorting cliches and predicting plot.

This series should be named the Linear Chronicles, as everything that should be been a twist, was a straight, and unchecked bore. There were no scenes to produce any care about the characters from the reader. Everything was as superficial as the glamour skill. While I pushed through to finish it, I should have thrown the book over the fence because everything I predicted that would happen, DID happen. My opinion that females do not make good comediennes reigns true especially in this book; if you're not funny, do not try to be funny. The attempt shows and it hurts your work. The author explains that if you want to publish a good book, you should have good beta readers. Obviously, she did not take her own advice, or she adopted a bunch of feeler fans who were too starstruck or sensitive about exposing the truth: this book sucks in many ways:

(1) Static, one-dimensional characters with little to no motivations or passions; (2) awfully predictable plot; (3) pitiful action scenes; (4) superfluous dialogue with static voices, and (5) repetitive descriptors. I saw she reused words--enough to turn it into a drinking game ("nails dug into his/her hand"--shot!).

For the storyline's brink of war there was zero urgency in the protagonist, and no blinding passion to move her to become a worthy hero. If the characters, even the minor antagonists, had any drive to put up plot barricades and ultimatums, then it would be easier to move through the chapters. Not even hook lines existed at the end of chapters, or none that were worthy. The author had PLENTY of opportunities to show gumption in the protagonist and she failed.

One chapter had me rolling my eyes so much when she had the opportunity to stay away from the stepmother. I could have written it where she had a new base of operations, so she had more impact at the big finale, where Cinderella's supposed to go to the ball. It was not there. Everything was so mediocre. I could not cry, I could barely laugh--I did not feel anything for any of these characters. Dr. Erland appealed to me most and there was lots of potential there. Dead and done. I will not be picking up another book because in the last chapter I just skipped through the prose, saw it was a poor sitcom hook so she could write more books, and I ended up saying, "That's it? Geez." Bottomline: everyone was just soooooo NICE. Even the antagonists. When there's a war, there is no nice. When there's an abusive family, it's far worse than what's in this book. Should've talked to a soldier, general, or even an abuse survivor to get a feel for what should have happened in the book.

If you crave intelligence, adventure, deep romance, and a good plot with lively characters, do NOT choose this book. Now I await the butthurt feely fans to comment on how mean I am when they have no clue who I am and what I do and why. If Meyer wishes to produce more work, she needs logical, honest people as beta readers who aren't afraid of hurting her feelings. She needed guidance and her support failed her.

Good job at the end of chapter 33. I enjoyed that at least.

View all my reviews

Monday, September 19, 2016

Write Drunk, Edit Sober - What Does It Really Mean?

Although Ernest Hemingway NEVER said this, I wanna live by it. And I'm two shots in. I will not get drunk, but loose. I don't condone nor condemn drinking. In moderation it helps even perfectionists like me to ease out of being such a frissy-frossy. (See? It's working. I'm making sh*t up.) 
There are studies suggesting one or two beers helps INSPIRE ideas, while coffee helps you FOCUS on these ideas. I'm in a chapter that needs to hurry up and finish so I can go back to action scenes, my easiest and more fun writing bits. Hence, the shots to help me unwind, and not fuss over how perfect the scene is. It's a complicated dialogue scene. Lots of information. Lots of stuff I need to just throw out there so when I go Revision mode, I can figure it out then. No biggie. 
Don't worry about your first draft. It's rough because it's for YOU. It's to tell you the story, then you can revise and figure out how it tells others the story. 

Keep writing!

What does "Write Drunk" mean and how did the false quote become so popular?

You could take it literally or less than but the quote simplifies the writer's take on finishing the book first. When you go through the rough draft, you must keep writing, and not care about all the errors, and potential hiccups in your research. Your usual inhibitions are put away when drunk so try to put them away when you're writing. 

What does "Edit Sober" mean?

Without mercy, revise, revise, revise. Remember how you tried correcting your mistakes when you realized what you did while you were drunk? Yeah. You're fixing those. The bad texts, the vocal're editing those out of your story. But only Edit Sober when you're DONE WITH YOUR BOOK. Not when you're done with the chapter. Unless you're a blogger. Then yes...please...edit your blog post with murderous enthusiasm.

Friday, May 20, 2016

New Location!

I moved about a month or two ago and I'm still getting settled into the new house. Forgive my absence. It's been a long trek. Currently re-reading my book because (1) my characters are mad at me and are giving me the silent treatment, and (2) the story isn't fresh in my mind.

When I come up with a helpful post for your writing, I will make it happen. But right now I need to help myself, and that's taking time. Thank you for understanding. I am still here! Just in a new place and time.

Here's another shot I took in my travels!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Still Here!

Moving takes a lot of time and work. Am still active and wanted to update you that we're still moving in to our new home and getting used to our location. Stick with me, okay-kay? Thanks! Here are some hints to where we moved:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Finding Your Story's Pace in 5 Steps

One of my big struggles is pace. This is posted more for both of us. I'm a facilitator, not a teacher. You can teach me too through your comments and there are lots of past comments that I loved reading! Thank you very much for your insight! We're all in this together. When we love what we do and are achieving our dreams, we build each other up, we don't tear down. Virtual hugs all around!

Now that gushy-mush is outta the way, time for some skill development!

How to Find your Pace

1. Find the Tone
2. Know the Why
3. Understand your characters
4. Know their goals
5. Pick the Environment


At Hawaiicon, I went to a writer's workshop taught by two very successful screenwriters, Brad Bell and Jane Espenson. I asked them about pace. They loved that question and so did the rest of the group. Lots of writers in this shop were clearly not amateurs, though not published, so it was refreshing to be with fellow writers who ranged from not-quite-beginner to published-near-expert. Bell's and Espenson's answer: TONE. When writing your story, you need to find the tone you're writing first. Are you the poetic sort that wants to take your readers barefoot through a peaceful stream, or throw on combat boots, and jump into a war? Finding the tone FIRST helps you avoid pacing problems.

Think about what you want the writing to feel like. Do you want it to be active and musical, action-like, or do you want it to be thoughtful and emotional? And most importantly, once you find the tone, stay consistent! Let the tone sink in; you will adapt and writing with the tone will come naturally.


What are you conveying? What do you want the reader to figure out? What do you want them to see? Knowing the why is figuring out your characters. Why did they say that? Why did they do that? What are we learning from this character? Everything must have meaning and each meaningful moment--be it dialogue, action, or introspection--must get the character closer to the solving the problem, the end-goal.


Some characters will make the tone for you, which makes the pace, which makes the story. What does your character do and think? Do they jump to conclusions, jump without thinking, shoot and ask later? Are they quiet, seemingly anti-social, but paying attention to every detail? Where does your perspective character come from? Do they get lost in thought sometimes? Figure out your characters so they can help you with the tone and pace.


This means EVERYONE'S goals. And if these goals are on a time limit, you can bet millions your pace will be fast, and you'll need to shorten those sentences, and make every word precise and blunt. Your characters won't have time to "get lost in their mind"--they might have quick flashbacks to a painful memory, but never "the leaves ease from a summer green to a burning red" blah blah blah. But if you're not constrained by time, you can put some nice breaks between action scenes; you'll have more slow intervals for character development between achieving goals. Unless character development for the character is the romance, or some teen stories. Depends on your characters' goals, of course. 


Genre. So you found what you're trying to convey, you know your characters and goals, now you must know where you're throwing them. Drop them in a fast-paced environment with fast-paced goals and you have something like the show 24. Drop them in a small town where not a lot seems to go on and you have something like Longmire. If you created your own world, it's all on your preference and the region of that world. 

Now it's your job to assess your pace.


Study your favorite books. It's better with books so you can see the words used to quicken or shorten the pace. But if you need fast advice, you can always check on different series genres. In shows, you can feel it more because you're watching it happen. 

(Tip from Bell and Espenson: TURN ON CAPTIONS.

When studying TV shows or movies (they're screenwriters they do this often) they always have the captions on so they can see the flow of dialogue and the choice words. To them, dialogue is music. It's their entire world or their scripts are nothing. But for novels, dialogue might be half of what is required, if at all.)

Polar Examples:

Longmire - pace of the story is through the eyes of the protagonist and based on his personality and his environment. When you go through the story, you're riding a trotting horse down a long trail. You take in the mountains, the vast farm fields, and trees in the distance. You listen to the nearby stream, you see what kind of rocks line the road as you make your way to your cabin, where a warm fire awaits, with a wife or husband making a cup of hot tea for you.

24 - based on high-stress situations and how fast character needs to achieve goals, and how much faster antagonist wants to achieve their goals. You're in a car and you speed by all the little details because they're insignificant to the problems you must deal with right now. You have to get to the end or you'll die, or your family will die, or America will go explode-y. 

Any other examples that lie in between these two opposites you can figure out yourself. You're smart. 

Go forth and multiply (your word count)!

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Are there ways you figure out your pace? Is there a strategy you use?  Comment below! If this helped you in any way, please share it on Pinterest or where ever your mind desires!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Character Traits Shake-Up Game and Character Generator Resource

Want to break up your routine for coming up with characters? Play a game! Come on. It'll be fun.
And the characters in your head might play too. Or they'll hate you for it. Let's see!

You're familiar with those shake-box-full-of-names-and-pick-one drawings. This is like that.

Character Trait Shake-Up Game


- Shoe box with lid
- tongue depressors
- two different colored markers
- pen and paper
- (optional) unbiased minion
- (opt.) Trait Thesauruses (Thesaurai?)

1. Write out boxes for your random characters. You can use these for anything. I'm gonna use them as a resource in case I need a new minor character, or an idea for a main for future books.

2. Write down as many negative personality traits as you want. I chose 27 with the pink marker. Then write down the positive traits with the other colored marker. (I also chose 27.) Keep the negative and positive traits segregated. 

3. Put one set of traits in the shoe box and summon your minion (if you have one). Have them shake up the box and choose 3 sticks.

4. Repeat this as many times as desired. If you followed this, just fill up the right side of the four character boxes. Move on to the positive traits and do the same. You could even keep the used sticks out of the box for no repeats.

5. You made random characters! Congrats!

There are also generators online if you're not a kinesthetic type, or don't want to bother with this activity. Here are some resources that quickly help you in the character field:

Three random traits: Random Character Trait Generator

Simple button to push and write down whatever shows up.

Complete character: Character Design Inspiration Generator

To play, just take a screenshot of the section
(Command+Shift 4 for Macs)
you want for making your character.

Character quirks and other randomizers: Quirk Generator

How fun is this? I giggled. I use quirks of mine and place them in all my characters, but if you want total random, try this generator. They also made lots others for role-playing and writing. Fantastic!

* * * * * * *

Hope was this fun for you as I had making it. My little monster liked choosing for me, so I'm glad he helped with my writing. He's patient when I work but needs that attention from mom. Probably why I don't get work done as fast as everyone else. But work is work. Family is everything. They're only kids before they're not.

Tell me your thoughts! How do you make your characters? Are there different ways you found interesting? I'd love to know. 
Please comment! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Killing Cliches: A Murder Reference to Writing's Ruthless Saboteur

I'm not nice when it comes to awful dialogue choices writers make, especially if I'm not emotionally invested. It's one of my negative traits. Take Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Some of it is snarky, and times (many times), it's an ugher. You know, when you roll your eyes and ughhh. That.

And it's not just dialogue, it's an action, a scene, or a character. I'll focus on lines and actions since my list can go on and on. If you're looking for the hub of cliche help, this is it. My list may be short(er) but I also have links to other references who have done a major service in hunting cliches and shooting them without remorse. To those blog writers: thank you. To the readers:

In order to kill your target, the cliche, you first must know what it is. When I was a kid, I asked my mom, and she had a difficult time explaining it to my inexperienced self. She said it's a term for when something is done or said from lots of people to the point of exhaustion. (I'm sure she really said, "it's a word describing another word used over and over and over...and over again." Because I would get that at whipper-snapper stage.) Your stage now, is understanding your cliche.

To start, here's a list of cliches I found while watching several shows and movies. A few are from Buffy (naturally), then others from my beloved series Blacklist, my child's movies, and some books I read. 

STAGE 1: Analyze Your Target

You think I--
(Doesn't matter what I think.)

Give me one reason I shouldn't shoot you.

I will be your judge, jury, and executioner.

Who do you think you are?
(I'm the one who...)

I'm sorry. 
(Yeah I'm sorry too.) 

Hang tight! (When someone is hanging upside down.)

  • Obvious puns aren't cliches but annoying.

Like a kid in a candy store.

Knife cuts anything like butter.

Star Wars references (I am your father.)

Well then, I guess I better get started.

I should've known.

At long last.

When lots of characters in a row have their own line. They're in a group and it seems out of place that each one would talk one after the other until everyone has a say. Usually happens at end of movies (Disney's Bolt) or my favorite Dragon Age games (scene of characters playing Wicked Grace in Inquisition).

Fair enough.

Slept like a baby. 

  • This is wrong for two things: babies do not sleep well and people say it like it's a good thing. 
Slept like a log.

  • Somebody got the idea about babies but forgot you can't change one word of a cliche to make it something new. 
It ain't over 'til it's over.

Or any reference to fat ladies singing.

A mother who cannot defend herself or her baby.
  • Oh no. We are resourceful. We either are packing or we have taken classes. Stories involving a mother losing or failing is old. Defense is increasing and women are fighters. And demonizing the natural biology of mothers is repulsive and you will lose your audience. If you're a screenwriter and do this (Once Upon A Time, I'm glaring at you), you should know that most females are mothers (and potential mothers) and stay at home to tend their wee ones.
  • If it's important that she loses the baby (kidnapping), a mother will do what ever is necessary to get her child back. Grizzly moms. Take them seriously. They might cry but I'm betting it's out of rage, not the whiny dribble I often see on television. ("Please. I just want my baby back." Heaven help (<---cliche) whoever thinks this is okay to say to the villain who just stole the child. Mad Max. Glaring at those writers too.)
  • I liked how the love interest in Croods was an orphan but it wasn't the main focus. It was only a key to relating with the father. Main prots as orphans where the writer tries to stir emotion from it is overdone. Orphans who are fighters or don't make a big deal of it (maybe don't even hint it) is okay. Using it to mainly care for character...just stop.
  • Bad Orphans: The Good Dinosaur, Devil May Cry
  • Good Orphans: Annie, Oliver Twist, The Croods
Hormonal Love.
  • I loved The Little Mermaid. I got older and loved Beauty and the Beast more. I grew up, got my heart broken, crushed, and dumped overboard, and I love the gradual displays of affection two people ha e for one another in the subtlest ways, each carrying an action and reaction in different scenes. Oh Sheriff Longmire, you kill me. But give me that stupid hook up for the sake of "she's a female so I must" (Titan AE) or that "he's so handsome, isn't he?" (The Little Mermaid) and I will be drooling, staring up at the ceiling, waiting for someone to wipe my chin. And neck. And change my shirt. Yuck. 
Long-range weapons used at short range.
  • And the hero wonders what they did wrong, or that they got in trouble for drama's sake. No cop does this. No person with basic gun training does this. It's super annoying to watch because humans are not that dumb. 
You're not him/her. Because if you do this, you'll be just like them. 

  • Oh. Ehm. Gee. Justifying not killing a murderer because character would "become like them." Batman does this specifically because the comic is about the colorful villains. We love the villains therefore need a pacifist who rejects his ninja training to keep our darlings alive. (And frankly, keeping them alive with their face as a mask--see Death of the Family--got really absurd, kinda fun, but just kill him already. We can re-read oldies.) Conflict (and criminals) would be out of a job if more justice fighters took self-defense seriously, and understood that criminals do criminal things and will not stop doing criminal things. 
  • Arrow. I stopped watching this show because I got sick of the hypocrisy. Green Arrow was so much fun...what happened? I think that actor happened. I don't know. Do you know? Tell me if you do.
STAGE 2: Hunt Your Target

It's okay to plug in cliches during your first draft. The first is about putting the story out there so you can see what it's about, not anyone else. Well, maybe your mom. Or significant other. And they'll tell you it's great. It's not. It's horrible. It's a first draft. Be okay with horrible. You wrote a book! Woo! If you're still writing, just keep pushing those words. But if you're revising, this is where you need to be: hunting cliches.

Now that you know what the cliches look like, read them over, highlight them, and decide if it's detestable, or it really is a part of the character's dialogue (because some characters will use cliche in certain genres, especially if you're going for snide, or satirical). If it's questionable, ask someone else. Have you considered a beta reader? I told my husband to point out cliches the instant he finds them in my work. He noticed I used purple prose in my first book. As a perfectionist, mistakes are intolerable, but they happen. I'm slowly accepting this, so if you're similar, I know your pain.

Once you find the cliches, do you shoot to kill, or let 'em live? It depends on you. Your book. But if the cliche really is annoying, and annoying to readers, then put it out of its misery. It will only make your book miserable to read.

STAGE 3: Redrum and Replace

Murder is simple. Weapon of choice, then kill. But getting away with it is the rub (<---cliche). The kill scene needs clean-up. Did you set it up properly so no trace of the cliche would be left behind (<---cliche)? Or will this cliche come back to haunt you (<---cliche) and wreak havoc (<---cliche) on your chapters?

Now here's something that's counter-productive to avoiding cliches: thinking outside the box (<---CLICHE!). 

Gawd. Why? No! Stop it! Just stop it! How do we stop it? The more people talk the more lines are used. The more they're used the more they're overused. So how do you avoid cliches altogether? 

KNOW them. 
Then BEND the rules. 

What? Yes. Bend the rules. Book's not going to be perfect (gasp). But it's a step. Take your cliche and make it a part of your book. Here's how:

  1. What is your book's genre?
  2. Who are your characters?
  3. How do they relate their dialogue to personality?

Are you a horror writer? Are your characters dark? Are you a happy Young Adult writer who like glitter and unicorns? Do you prefer vampires or wizards? Where are your characters from? Who's narrating? Okay, you got the idea. Now work with the cliche.

Example: He avoids her like the plague.

Rewrite: He won't touch a paper with her signature. 

Example: I should have known.

Rewrite: Nothing. 

  • Some sentences should just be omitted. If they realized something that was obvious to them, most people don't admit this out loud. They respond with an action or facial expression that means something is going on in their head that we can't see.

Example: At long last.

Rewrite: Hello. 

  • No really. That's cute. Especially if it's the antagonist. Remember Star Trek? ("Hi, Christopher. I'm Nero.")
Rewrite: And we're here.

  • Or you can turn this phrase into an action, like spreading arms out with a smirk kind of thing.
Example: I slept like a log.

Rewrite: I slept and lost three thousand years. Or: I slept. What year is it?

It's great to be creative with your characters' dialogue, especially the voice of your book. If you have specific objects in your world that only certain characters know about, use them in dialogue to avoid cliches. One character I always think of when doing this is Starfire. She said some crazy things in the comic and show (moreso the show...easier to notice when her breasts weren't taking up her talk bubbles). Only she understood what she meant and left other Titans bemused. 

There are lots of "avoiding cliche" tips out there, but not many that gave a solid solution, or at least a helpful example. They stated and addressed but the help was obscured. So I decided to write this for you in hopes that it'll help. Also, this is like a hub. Below are references to cliche posts I appreciated due to their unique insight and different areas of cliches. I suggest the Oxford one first as they actually offer solutions and not just "DON'T WRITE CLICHES MMMKAY?" Yuck. I'm here to help, not yell at you. Mostly. ;)

Further Study References for Cliches:

Oxford Dictionary - Rewriting to Avoid Cliches
681 Cliches to Avoid in your Creative Writing
How to Avoid Cliches in Fantasy Writing
Six Cliches to Watch Out For
(my favorite) 50 Cliched Dialogues to Ban from your Script

Tell me, what are your least favorite cliches? Is it on my list or in any of the links? Share with me! I'd love to hear 'em! 

And if this post helped, please reshare. I post to Pinterest and Tumblr. Find me. Follow me. 
Stalk me. :) 

Friday, February 26, 2016

5 Points God Helps With Writing

The Bible is the most printed book in all of existence. And while lots of writers do not believe in God, they should look into why it's the most popular book and how. Supposedly there have been six billion Bibles printed, but nothing is exact. Still. Wow. It'd be a good idea to have a chat with the best-selling author of the world. Yes?


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1. Hope & Love

ROMANS 15:4 -- For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Readers look for specific things in stories. Let's look at the best-sellers to find out what they are. Take the Top 10. (I hate citing Wiki, but this isn't an official document, so go with it.) 

  • The Bible, ~5 to 6 billion

  • Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong, Mao Zedong, 900 million

  • The Qur'an, 800 million

  • Xinhua Zidian, 400 million

  • Book of Common Prayer, Thomas Cranmer, unknown

  • Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan, unknown

  • Foxe's Book of Martyrs, John Foxe, unknown

  • Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, Jr., 120 million

  • Harry Potter Book 1, J.K. Rowling, 107 million

  • And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie, 100 million

  • I'm not an expert in most of these books but I have read the Bible, the Qur'an, and definitely Harry Potter. These books contain instruction, hope, an escape, or a peace to accept ourselves as we are. Some have all, some have one. Of course there are lots of other factors that make these best sellers but to the people who actually WANT to read them, they seek hope; they seek love.

    What you write should have something like this. Give your readers hope. An underdog is always a fan favorite. (David and Goliath. Katniss and Snow. Potter and Voldemort.) Give your readers love. (God the Father and the World. Lily and Severus.) Give your readers instruction. Give them a moral to a story. Give them mistakes the protagonist made and have the character and reader learn from them.

    Faith, Hope, and Love are gifts from God. But the greatest is Love. Hold true to this when working on your story.

    2. Unoriginality

    ECCLESIASTES 1:9 -- What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

    It's okay to be unoriginal. No matter what you write about, someone, or even God already created something similar. The key is to add at least one more attribute that makes it your own. Since I will never give Twilight the time of day, let's go to K. M. Weiland. She inspired me to write this blog, so I should promote her work. In her blog The 4 Tweaks to Writing Truly Original Stories and Characters she mentions her own designs for her genre. She researched the fantasy genre and updated her knowledge on it. She learned about the cliches and tweaked them for her own book. Her dragon became something else. Her races became something more. 

    My own example is dragon-related. As Tolkien said, a book isn't worth reading unless there's a dragon, so I made my own race of them. Sort of. People love dragons. It's okay to have them in your work. People love vampires, zombies, and fairies. So does God. He loves the work you do and loves watching you use your borrowed talents. Like a parent smitten with scribbles on a page. God will put it up on a big, heavenly refrigerator, and boast about how awesome your work is. (Not that your work is a bunch of scribbles...)

    One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is the Valley of Dry Bones. Anything that shows God being dark and creepy to others is absolutely beautiful to me. He wills the bones to come to life. They shake and mount into skeletons, then all the ooey gooey insides form, then the skin, then the breath. Such poetry in the image. When I read this I knew I wrote my first book for a reason bigger than my own. Though zombies and grim reapers are "nothing new under the sun" I made death my own theme. And I knew, just because it's creepy and dark, God loves it. I made it through His help. 

    3. Discovery

    MATTHEW 7:8 -- For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

    Our finished works are never what we thought they'd be in the beginning. You have your outline, your characters, your theme, and then you start to write. It's a journey all its own. A character's motivations take them in ways we didn't want them to, but they have to, because that's their way. God may have purpose for Jonah, but Jonah didn't listen. What happens when characters don't listen to the author? We give them trials, consequences of their actions that add more dynamics to the story. We somehow knew something would happen but not precisely what. 

    Ever paint? You have an idea of what you're going to make, and you try to make it exactly what's in your head, but it turns out completely different. Yet it might be better than what you thought first. There's concept then production. Happens all the time. That's a good thing. It's fun. It breaks the system and adds vibrance from both sides: behind the keyboard and in the story.

    God wants us to discover ourselves, more importantly, he wants us to discover life, and as the result, the beauty of his works. Nothing new under the sun? Cuz he made it. But that doesn't mean we've found everything he's made yet. So go out and find it. Go out and find him. Discovery is a relationship between creator and creation. In such a vast world of imagination, anything is possible except the possibility of nothing.

    4. Pace

    JAMES 1:3 -- For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

    You attend your first date. You sit down with him or her and you say, "Hi," then they say "Hi, my name is blah-blah-blah, I've lived for blah-blah in blah-blah, I do this, this, this, this, and that, that, that, and a little of that, but lots of this. I used to be a murderer/dealer/detective/king/hitman/insert crazy occupation here, until this one other crazy thing happened, so I took up this other thing, and fought with this person crazier than me, but I'm really excited to meet you because I've done all these background checks on you, and you just seem like such an amazing person, and I want to protect you and love you for the rest of our lives, and maybe have children. And a dog. I like dogs." And he or she keeps talking and you run. You run far. That's the sane thing to do, right?

    The Bible is layers upon layers of information and we only read one piece and somehow we don't see the same verse we read in a different light until months, maybe years down the road, when we read it again, and it means something else. Or we're first learning about God and only read the nice, happy parts, like the miracles.

    "Hi. I'm Jesus. I do miracles."

    Then you warm up to him, thinking this is an all right guy. Until he gets angry. He flips merchant tables in the air and yells at people to leave the church. 

    What just happened? He's such a chill dude! Why is he acting that way?

    You read more. You find out why. One character trait is revealed, and then another, and then another.

    Then you want to read the history of this world. This Jesus was planned long before his birth. What? Yeah. How is that possible?

    So you read. And the layers keep getting read until you're so involved with the book you can't leave. 

    God teaches you pace. He teaches you not to make your readers run away by overloading them with information. He shows you, he doesn't tell you. He shows you active and passive voice. I'm certain God invented the term "info-dump." And even though the Bible is dense with information, he understands that we will become overwhelmed with some pages, so those verses you read years before that made no sense might make sense now. You never know. But that's a faith thing. Not a pace thing. Another topic for another blogger.

    5. Purpose

    You want to dream big but you have little faith in yourself let alone God. We have to believe there is something more to us than mediocrity. Through hope, love, and discovery, we find our own greatness within what we find already great. It does not mean any of us are the same. It does not mean by others' greatness we are washed out. We are a gallery and the artist. We just need to try and with trying, we find purpose.

    ROMANS 5:3-4 -- More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope...

    2 TIMOTHY 3:16 -- All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

    God used many people throughout many time periods to create the Bible. And crazy as it is, all the books put together check out. Things that are said in the Old Testament about an angel coming to Earth to save people is written in the New Testament as Jesus. Writers for Old Testament had no clue about Jesus. Never saw him, never existed when He was born. Yet it's there, connecting chapter after chapter with this prophecy that a symbol of unconditional love will arrive to save the people God loves. God used all these writers for a greater purpose that they could not see, but God could. God, the master writer. These writers are one page in a book; one thread in the tapestry. What writers do is very important. Writers spread messages through the painting of words. Know that what you choose to write is important. You have a purpose. You are inspired for a reason and those reasons may be selfish, selfless, or all over the place. But there is always one master writer guiding those reasons for his ultimate reason. 

    = = = = = = =

    I am in no way an expert of the Bible. I struggled with this because how do I talk about something that's perfectly made? I can't do it justice. I can only hope as I did my best. Some of the verses have nothing to do with the context I've posted. 

    (1 JOHN 4:1-3 -- Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.)

    But if this post made you read the descriptive text of each verse, then that means you don't take my words at face value, and that's a double win for God and myself. I know you will do anything to seek the truth and God gets some one-on-one time with you. If you're just here for the inspiration that you are something special, and what you're doing is greater than yourself, that's what this post intends.

    You are unique.

    You have purpose.

    You can do anything.



    He is not finished with you yet.


    Tuesday, January 26, 2016

    4 Reasons Why We Need Miserable Writers

    Some of the best writers were miserable. 
    While I'm stuck in the middle of my book, I reflect what the new year brought us. 
    Heartbreak, misery, and shock. 
    But just because your life sucks doesn't mean you should give up. 
    It means you have something to say.
    The world hurts and our words are supposed to heal it.
    What about healing the writer?
    Can our own words soothe us or do we selflessly reveal our souls to help others find their own? 
    Misery wants to empathize. 
    We want to relate.

    (Yes, this is a happy photo I took. There have been no gloomy days here so I've been extra cranky. I need my gloom or all the happy irks me. Balance, people. Works both ways.)

    1. Brings Value
    2. Makes You Relatable
    3. Strong Emotions Produce Best Results
    4. Therapy for Writer and Reader

    Which writer did you relate to who had horrible experiences? Maybe you didn't relate, maybe you just felt their work was beautiful. One of my favorites is Edgar Allan Poe. If anyone read his work, they have at least one favorite. With my disturbing perspective of what's beautiful, his violent poetry speaks to me. It's dark but it's honest. He lost so many in his real life that his only outlet was writing.

    Now what if he lived a happy life? Annabel Lee would not have the same impact.

    When darkness veils your life, it's an opportunity to create. When Alan Rickman died, my soul broke. Didn't want to do anything that day. I got drunk and cried. My years of drawing fan art, writing fan fics, and watching his films three-fourths of my life led to a very miserable week. After I sobered up his day of death, I painted. I had to. The brushstrokes were therapeutic. I didn't hurry it up to post my tribute with everyone else, I just painted for my soul's sake. 21+ hours later, I submitted my tribute on my art page. For miserable reasons, it ended up being my best work yet. I handled every detail with perfection (as much as I could). This is one version:

    Didn't sleep. Didn't eat much. Even stopped drinking. Cried a lot watching my painting become him. Skipped the Bargaining stage. Disbelief, Anger, and Sadness mostly. I shouldn't use my emotions to work, but sometimes I need to. It produces the best results. If I didn't find a way to channel my emotions, I would've kept drinking. Not good for anyone who depends on me.

    Another way I coped with tragedy came more immediate, years back when my dog died. I never got serious about writing until his death. I had to write. I promised him.

    It still hurts.

    My first book leaks my loss of the greatest friend ever. People will find solace in their loss through acceptance of death. That's my hope, anyway. Nobody should deal with that alone.

    Our darkness is what gives us value. Without miserable moments, we can't be relatable. Total misery is doom but if we find the balance to accept the light and dark, then we can find the words to make writing worth reading. I'm not saying be miserable all the time. Not saying be happy all the time either (ugh...that's the fake...hate fake, all-happy people). But we can't help what happens to us. We can help what we do about it.

    Further insight to accepting our darkness: Why Our Dark Sides Make Us Better Writers

    Writers who led miserable lives:

    John Berryman
    Virginia Woolf
    Edgar Allan Poe
    Tennessee Williams
    Hunter S. Thompson
    Ernest Hemingway
    Robert E Howard
    Anne Sexton
    Sylvia Plath

    And again, not saying misery is a good thing or that we should glorify it, but successful writers had awful lives. Certain all these committed suicide. If you think your life sucks and are not talking to someone about it, don't keep it in. Seek the light. Sometimes writing won't be enough to soothe your ache. I want you to find hope. Every aspect of your life is meaningful, even the misery. But if it hurts too much, please--please--don't keep it to yourself. Those stages to suicide are bullshit. My friend died and no one saw it coming. Wanna talk? I'm here. Seriously.

    This post is a mess. No apologies. Talking about misery where spots are still sore is not my favorite, but I have to, especially if it helps you.

    Tell me what you think. Tell me your feels.