Resolve, Review, Persist

New Year’s resolutions tend to start gathering dust around February, and the artistic kind can be especially difficult to justify, especially when things get busy. But there’s no shame in starting over, and in fact there’s something to be said for not even starting until February. Whether you’re a month into a new habit and reassessing your goals for the year or just starting yours out, here’s a reminder of why you made those writing resolutions in the first place, and permission to take them seriously, in case you need it: In 2019: Persist, Persist, Persist.   Continue reading Resolve, Review, Persist

Dialogue

This week’s discussion was all about dialogue. If you missed the meeting and didn’t get the handout, you can find Thomasa’s tips for writing good dialogue over here, and here’s the rest of what the group came up with: How your characters speak is just as important as what is said. Be descriptive, but resist the urge to get too fancy with your dialogue tags—”said” is perfectly fine, and leaning too heavily on more interesting synonyms and adverbs can clutter up your writing; basically, make them count. Realistic speech isn’t grammatically correct, so dialogue doesn’t have to be and can … Continue reading Dialogue

Minutes from December 14, 2018 Meeting

For our final meeting of 2018, following up on our character discussions of the last couple weeks, each of our writers brought in a character, major or minor, to introduce to the group. Some came with lists, while others had chosen to stage interviews with their characters.  Pooled together, we had a range of internal and external details—family dynamics, educational background, personality quirks, physical appearance, religion, favorite foods, full family history, personal traumas, professional history, social skills, etc., and how some of those traits inform the others. It sounds like everybody came out of this exercise knowing more about our characters … Continue reading Minutes from December 14, 2018 Meeting

More on Character

We’re all hard at work on our character trait lists (or interviews, or spreadsheets, or whatever route you’ve chosen) for Friday. I can’t wait to meet everybody’s characters, but I’m having more trouble than I expected boiling mine down to traits on a list without going off on a lot of tangents. So I started looking around the internet for useful tips from established writers. Here’s Chuck Wendig on two nifty visual aids for writing characters: the mind map—a sort of visual-meets-textual reference of multiple characters’ basic traits—and a purely visual collection of abstract images that call to mind who a … Continue reading More on Character

Minutes from December 3, 2018 Meeting: Character Building

This week’s meeting focused on character building. We covered a lot of ground, so settle in. First off, let me refer you to this helpful post on creating a well-rounded character. We went over those five points and discussed how they can help address some common snags a writer may hit when crafting a character, including something called “the superhero problem” in which a character is too powerful to identify with, too invulnerable to allow the plot any sense of urgency, or too prominent in the plot to allow room to explore how other characters matter and are affected by … Continue reading Minutes from December 3, 2018 Meeting: Character Building

Worldbuilding: Culture

Writing advice: “Write what you know.” Me: “But what I know is boring!” It’s one of many reasons why I tend more toward the speculative in my reading and writing. But even speculative fiction requires some grounding in reality, and I only have one short life’s worth of very limited experience. I know the people around me, how they live, what they look like, what they value. I can write about those lives, and there’s no reason not to. But I’m building a world here. If I fill it only with what I know, I will very quickly lose interest, … Continue reading Worldbuilding: Culture

Minutes from November 26, 2018 Meeting

Happy last week of November! Just a quick reminder that we are holding write-ins this week to wrap up NaNoWriMo. Anyone who’d like a motivation boost is welcome to come by the library at Penn Highlands between 4 and 7 on Tuesday (tonight!), Wednesday, and Thursday. At yesterday’s meeting we discussed some of our difficulties with character development, and we continued our worldbuilding discussion, this time focused on culture. Though creating new geography and language can be difficult enough, creating a new culture or showcasing an existing one involves a lot more care. Some of our character building discussion: how … Continue reading Minutes from November 26, 2018 Meeting

Mapmaking and Worldbuilding

We had a great worldbuilding discussion during our most recent meeting. One of our writers brought in a map of her current fantasy project, and it was clear from the details that she’d put a lot of thought into how her world is organized. Geological features, place names, coded symbols serving as shorthand descriptors for different nations and societies—she’d even spent time researching river basins in order to draw a detailed hub of the world. She’d generated an indispensable reference tool that will help her keep track of not only the physical facts of her world but also the potential … Continue reading Mapmaking and Worldbuilding

Tips and Tools for NaNoWriMo (and Beyond!)

I found a great podcast this morning and it practically flicked a switch in my brain. I was getting ready for work and wondering if I’d ever find the time to write today—or, more honestly, make the time—and then suddenly I was scribbling like mad. I don’t normally have the attention span for podcasts, but I’m a huge fan of some of the writers involved in Writing Excuses and the episodes are blessedly short—usually around fifteen minutes long. They also put out even shorter episodes for November, because it’s even harder to make time for podcasts when you’re trying to … Continue reading Tips and Tools for NaNoWriMo (and Beyond!)