Book Blogger Tip Tuesday #32

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It’s fine to write casually, but when you want to actually get a word count up, take it seriously. You can’t act surprise that you haven’t written 1000 words if you try to do so in front of Netflix.

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Writing First Draft Woes

I believe in my last writing update I said I’d be doing these consistently again…I guess we all know what a big faced liar I am. But honestly its been hard to find a routine again, getting back into blogging and, you know, not being a hermit. It’s very difficult when I just can’t bring myself to leave the comfort of writing.

But baby steps, I’m starting to write some short stories on the side and starting the whole planning and drafting process again with my book has really helped me pull some writing advice together that I’m really excited about.

But I’m clearly not leaving my comfort zone just yet as this is going to be all about my writing and why its shit. I have written 7152 words of pure shit this week. Now I know it’s a first draft, I know it’s going to be awful; I know I should just leave it…but why can’t it be perfect now?

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When I’m writing I can just feel myself slogging, almost dragging myself along my belly to get from A to B. It just feels so heavy and clunky and just ugh. The urge to slap myself and scream ‘WRITE BETTER!’ is growing by the day. But I know I must wait this first draft out.

But there’s still that niggling feeling: What if this is the best I can do? Am I a terrible writer? What am I doing with my life?…Even though this is the fifth first draft I’ve had to sit through. It’s like winter. It always comes and yet somehow catches me off guard.

I miss editing at least when editing I jumped between genius and hack on a bungee cord. And its slow progress, was writing always this painful? I keep thinking I must be in the seventh level of Hell to be going to through this never-ending circle of drafting, editing and scrapping. Better pray number five is good enough to stick with.

Planning: Hero’s Journey

Introduction

There’s no such thing as a perfect outline, but if there was it would probably be Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. It is THE fantasy plot and more importantly the general character arc that all characters go through. It is the perfect template.

Hero Journey’s steps

1. Ordinary World
This is where our hero begins, in his normal life, unaware of the journey to come. We learn about the hero, his ordinary everyday life and his true nature. This is what makes the hero human to the reader so they can empathise with their plight.

2. Call to Adventure
This can also be referred to as the call to action, when the hero’s adventure begins. It usually starts with a threat to either him or something he cares about. It can be anything but it has to disrupt the hero’s ordinary world so the hero has motivation to start his journey.

3. Refusal of The Call
However, it is at this stage where the hero has doubts and fears about the adventure which he must first overcome. He needs to have his own internal conflict or else how are we meant to feel the initial stakes.
The hero may suffer as a result of refusing as staying in his comfortable life is much more appealing (and safer).

4. Meeting the Mentor
At the turning point, the hero is going to need help and guidance now he is outside of his ordinary world so he meets his mentor. The mentor’s role changes depending on what the journey is, the hero may need physical training or just an ego boost. But in general the mentor gives them their metaphorical packed lunch before they start their true journey.

5. Crossing the Threshold
This is the step when the hero FINALLY acts upon the call and starts his journey, whatever that journey maybe, (killing a dragon or going to the shops). And this doesn’t have to be when he actively accepts the call, he may still be pushed into it but either way he must begin his journey and show his commitment to it and what it has in store for him.
Note: He may be pushed into his journey, but he can’t be led into his destiny as this is passive action. The hero must decide and choose in some way to start his journey.

6. Tests, Allies, Enemies
The hero, now on his journey must face obstacles on his way to push him out of his comfort zone and to test him. And so the hero must overcome these challenges as he continued forward to his ultimate goal. As he defeats these, the Hero must learn the skills and/or powers he needs to reach his ultimate goal. It also helps gives the reader a deeper insight into his character as he develops and learns.

7. Approach to The Inmost Cave
The inmost cave maybe either a physical or a mental place where great danger lies that the hero up until this point hasn’t faced. As the Hero approaches the cave, he must make final preparations before taking the leap into the great unknown.
At the threshold, the hero must face his doubts and fears again. He may reflect upon his journey so far to gain the courage to go forward. This respite and reflection shows the reader the stakes of the ordeal to come and help raise the tension.

8. Ordeal
The Ordeal is once again either a dangerous physical or mental test that the Hero must face to allow him to ever return to his ordinary world. He must draw on all of his skills and experiences to defeat the challenge. This is the high-point of the hero’s arc where he can lose everything he holds dear with defeat.

9. Reward (Seizing the Sword)
After defeating the enemy, the hero is transformed into a new and stronger version of themselves and often with a reward for winning. Again the rewards depends upon the threat that has been defeated. It could be a crown or winning a gold medal, or a non-physical prize like knowledge or a change in a relationship.

10. The Road Back
This stage is a reverse echo of the Call to Adventure, He is now to return home with his reward but he is no longer afraid of any danger but relieved with having defeated the evil. However his journey is not yet over and he may still need one last push back into the Ordinary World.

11. Return with The Elixir
This is the final stage of the Hero’s journey in which he returns home to his Ordinary World a changed man.

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Example

And if this all sounds familiar its because George Lucas definitely stuck to the letter of the Hero’s Journey when writing Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. He then stopped using it and LOOK WHAT HAPPENED!

Conclusion

Of course, you never need to stick strictly to something like this, but it is a good starting point to build upon. Good luck Xx

Further Reading

http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/the-hero-journey-mythic-structure-of-joseph-campbell-monomyth.html

Writing: Dialogue

Introduction

Unless your entire cast of characters is made up of mutes or fish, you’re going to encounter dialogue. Sometimes it’s hard to write normal flowing conversations between the puppets we control. Nothing is natural when it’s already planned and written. But enough flimsy philosophical thoughts let’s talk talking.

Back to the basics

The easiest way to make your dialogue come to life is by learning how to grammatically write dialogue. So here are a few rules to remember:
a) Use a new indented line every time you have a new speaker
b) Always use speech marks before and after dialogue – (this is with the exception of when a character is speaking for a very long time across multiple paragraphs. Use an opening speech mark for each new paragraph and only use a closing speech mark at the end.

Making it flow

You need to understand one thing, people usually don’t speak to each other in full sentences. Characters are human (even if they are really ten-foot aliens) and thus, they lie, they hide things and are difficult in conversation. Including a bit of that personality into their dialogue adds conflict and interest to your story.

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Adding description

Picture the last time you had a conversation: most likely you weren’t just standing nose to nose with your conversing partner, talking in robotic monotone. So why should your characters? People move and express themselves and it’s important to show that. The constant repetition of ‘he said, she said’ is monotonous and boring, you need to spice up your dialogue with description and movement. Having stilted, short sentences between characters, continuously for two pages is the easiest way to make a reader’s eyes wander. You need variety, short and to the point sentences, amongst long proses as well as description in between.

Conclusion

It’s all about practice and even finding examples of great dialogue in everyday life. So, keep writing and keep listening (without seeming too creepy). Good luck Xx

Further Reading

How to write dialogue: 7 steps for great conversation