Warming Up for Writing

Some writers (specifically, college students) don’t have time to write every day. Whether you have five papers to write, a VBS skit and three new songs to memorize in the next four hours, a house to clean before your sister’s birthday party (because no one cleans for their own birthday party… or so they say…), or working dawn to dusk, some days are made for collapsing in exhaustion instead of forcing yourself to stay up an extra half hour and write.

The above will be disputed by some writers with more steel in their adenosine receptors and less kittens than I have. They are entitled to their methods. I accept that I am lazy and overly fond of sleeping on couches and in my sister’s sleeping bag. I am also fond of air conditioning.

To return to the yet-to-be-manifested point, some of us write in waves. In between waves of words, we may fall out of touch with our characters’ voices, our narrative style, or our story in general.

Just like warming up your violin or vocal cords, sometimes you need to warm up your writing.

Lots of writers do little exercises or warm-ups to get them into their writing for the day… I just can’t remember any names. Here are a few different exercises to try.

1) Write a poem around a visual or emotional theme from your story.

2) Write a diary entry about a previous event in your story from the perspective of a minor character.

3) Write a descriptive paragraph using only adjectives that start with B.

You get the picture. In my case, I write little poems or maxims to get me in the right groove (thinking of records, here). I have a gorgeous little diary with gold sakura blossoms stamped on it, and I use it for my poems and sayings. I love journals… I use different journals for everything, and I always ask for “cute journals” for Christmas and my birthday.

How do you get in the groove for writing? Do you read through the previous scene or two? Do an exercise or warm-up? Listen to specific music? How do you find your story zone?



Inspiration and Story Origin

Every story is, at its core, a single thought or image. Often, this thought or image is the original inspiration of the story.

As I wade through the wisdom within Stephen King’s On Writing, I have resonated with certain ideas he puts forth. One of these, as previously states, that a story is born from a single precious piece. This piece might be an image, a thought (commonly called a “what if”), or a dream. The common factor within these, which is the spark of the story, is the wondrous excitement it causes you, the writer. The kindling which you can’t help but light.

In this sense, I suppose writers are similar to pyromaniacs. Ehehe.

I have also come to the conclusion that a story burns out when the writer loses sight of the origin which made them want to write the story in the first place. I know this is commonly the case with me. I love worldbuilding… but I get so complex that I lose sight of the magical idea I wanted to write about and get lost in the details. Details are poisoned arrows. I am highly susceptible to poison. Therefore, getting lost in the details effectively kills my stories.

In hopes of preventing this from happening, I am making a resolution. Whenever I come up with a new story, I will write down the inspiration and story origin. Whenever I sit down to write the story, I will first review the ISO. If I start to divulge in details which draw me away from the ISO, I will simplify.

What do you do to keep a story from dying? Where do you keep the original wonder?



The Aspect of Mystery

Why does a reader read a book? Why does he start it? Continue it? Plow through to the end? What is it thatĀ tantalizes him so that a unique series of words entices him to invest in perusing and understanding them?

As with most questions dealing with mental processes, there are several answers. Today I would like to focus on the aspect of mystery.

I am an avid reader, but I don’t read books just because they are popular or recommended. And while I do read successful books that don’t necessarily appeal to me as a study of my craft, I also read for pleasure. What pleasures me is the pursuit of knowledge.

Did I ever mention that I am so Erudite it makes me feel guilty?

So, when I read a book for pleasure, I pick it up because I am interested in the knowledge I can accrue through it. In other words, I read a book because it is a puzzle, a mystery, for me to solve. I read it because I want to discover a new way of looking at a particular subject, or the answer to a riddle of story the author has laid out which I cannot solve simply by reading the back cover (which is possible, by the way.) I read a book because of its aspect of mystery.

What are some of your favorite books? Why did you choose to read them? What is the aspect of mystery in them which intrigued you as you read, or was the cause for your reading?

There’s Only One God, Ma’am…

…and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like “Shakespeare in the Park”. Doest Mother know you weareth her drapes?

Excuse my inaccurate quotations.

Guess what we’re talking about today.


Yeah, characters do wear clothes, you know. Lots of clothes, usually. Sometimes, not so many. After all, some characters just can’t wear sleeves, because they have to show off their ham sized arms!

I love Avengers, by the way. LOVE. Especially Hawkeye, because he’s a guy with a bow and arrows. If he was a girl, I’d be like “modern Katniss get out of my sight!” Unless she-Hawkeye had curly red hair, in which case I’d say, “Prithee, Merida of the here and now! Shoot thy cupid’s bow into the mercury-stream of yonder robotic alien who seems set on destroying this thy earthly abode!”

Enough digressing, as much as I enjoy it.

While names are chosen for a character by others and are subtler hints (if you like to be a writer who puts extra meaning into everything,) clothes are chosen by the character. They are a direct reflection of who the character is…or who the character wants to be seen to be.

Let us take, for example, the notorious Discworld business rivals Reacher Gilt and Moist von Lipwig. They both know the importance of outward appearances.

Reacher Gilt. Look at him, with his long, dark, curly hair and beard, his eyepatch, his parrot, his flamboyant clothing…there is a business man! Well actually, he looks very like a pirate, and pirates are murdering thieves. But he couldn’t possibly be that, because he looks it! Here is the genius of Reacher Gilt, according to Moist. He tells the world what he is (through his appearance) and they keep giving him their precious pence and clacks messages. A villain who looks a villain and is a villain is too villainy to be true.

Picture: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://2.bp.blogspot.com/__7s9GUTM-oY/TAh5dIVjPqI/AAAAAAAAREs/BPnnJAG6GHI/s1600/Going-Postal-19.jpg&imgrefurl=http://enchantedserenityperiodfilms.blogspot.com/2010/06/going-postal-loved-it.html&h=364&w=570&sz=32&tbnid=VrP8oVr8_EkNpM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=141&zoom=1&usg=__yRqS6gNHvw4O_yMfOKzEJ757xik=&docid=UxPdOHbwuupDMM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ufAiUOvRN-q5iwKqqIDoCg&ved=0CGoQ9QEwBA&dur=3173

I love Discworld.

Oh, wait! Here comes the Postmaster, Moist von Lipwig! Appointed by Lord Vetinari himself! He’d be completely unmemorable if it weren’t for the blinding gold suit, winged hat, and captivating smile. He looks to be an avatar. He acts like a conman. He is a conman, and he works for the tyrant of the city. That is the genius of Moist.

Picture (minus winged hat):http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Making_Money_Lipwig.JPG

And the genius of Terry Pratchett. He has created two business rivals who are both the same sort of person, and through their accoutrements alone you can tell who they are, both as villains and as characters.

How do you dress your characters? Is it in line with their personality, or the one they are trying to portray? Do they change the way they dress as their personality changes? Like Violet, in The Incredibles….

I digress. Again.

There are other things to consider, of course, like culture, money, time period…but I don’t want to digress on those right now.


What’s In A Name?

Character names are considered very important. There are whole books about finding the right name for your character. Whole websites. Tons of forums. Are names everything? Or are they nothing?

“A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.” So a name is just a name, right?

But names have associations. Names have meanings. So do names make or break you story?

It depends on how you feel about meaning and branding. What I mean by branding is the characteristics and stereotypes associated with a name. For example, what is the brand you think of when you hear or see the name Scarlett? Or Edmund? Matthias? Johanna? Ariel? Prince Charming?

Snicker. I know, eyes rolling. Moving on.

Let’s take Edmund as an example. When I think of the name Edmund, I immediately think of Edmund Pevensie, the just king of Narnia. I think dark, with beautiful eyes (thanks to Skandar Keynes). I associate it with betrayal, and redemption. Edmund is a beautiful and heroic name to me.

Let’s add another layer. Did you know Edmund means Wealthy Protector? We’ll take the protector part first. Think of Edmund’s act of sacrifice in the great battle against the White Witch. When he slices through her wand with his sword and subjects himself to fatal injury at her hand, he is not just trying to prove himself. He is protecting his people. Think of when Shasta meets Edmund and Susan in Tashbaan. What was Edmund doing there? He was there to protect his sister, and that is precisely what he did.

Next, let’s look at the wealthy part. In what ways is Edmund wealthy? Besides being one of the kings of Narnia during the Golden Age, of course. Obviously he had lots of jewels and gold and fancy swords. How was he wealthy in Aslan? Or by his siblings? Was he wealthy in the love and respect of others? Did his wealth come from his jewels, or from the wisdom and care he received from those he gave himself so selflessly for?

So, names are definitely important. On the other hand, I don’t think there is such a thing as a perfect name for a character. Names add depth and layers to a character, but there are alternatives in every case. For example, a tough, life-loving survivor (female) could be named Zoe, Eve, Ayisha, Aoife, Keisha, Liv, Nona…Katniss…Tris…June…yeah, yeah, whatever. The point is, names don’t make or break a character. They do define character and have important implications that must be considered.

Which is a good thing. Because my name (my secret, real life name) means Black One, or Dark. If you knew me for real (and some of you do) than you know black one/dark does not describe me. At all. Period. I should have been named Angelica, or Blythe, or Felicia, or Hana, or Joy, or Lacey, or…well, you get the picture. Something light and fluffy. Oh! Is there a name that means fluffy?

Apparently not, unless your name actually IS Fluffy. šŸ˜¦ Sad.


What do you think about names? Can you give any examples of names whose meaning or brand stick out to you?



Belle’s Genre Definition List

Note: this is not ment to be a comprehensive list. XD

Contemporary–normal stuff in dramatic mode

Dystopian–future twisted societies with control issues

Fantasy–magic stuff

Historical–stuff that happened way back when…really

Mystery–smart (or dumb) people puzzling over theft, kidnapping, murder, et cetera

Romance–lots of angst and kissing

Science Fiction–techie stuff, not necessarily limited to starships and intergalactic wars

Supernatural Thriller–Angels and Demons in various forms

Young Adult–starring teen(s) with identity issues or love triangles



Hana: Transporter

Variety E. Discipline 501 in progress.

Project Kitsune

A top secret government organization producing lab specimens demonstrating particular abilities in hopes of forming stealth agents capable of tracking and observing a mysterious rising power.

Security Grade Omega-Sigma

This is really secret stuff. It even has Greek letters.

Variety E

This variety of stealth agent was developed to be a transporter. It is most highly skilled in Set 5 of the Disciplines.

Subject 4.6

Fourth generation stealth agent. Both parents are third generation stealth agents. Preferred Name: Hana. Codename: Eos.

Discipline 501

The lowest level of Set 5 of the Disciplines. Commonly called Telekinesis. Subject is able to move any object with mass using controlled will power.

Discipline 502

The second level of Set 5 of the Disciplines. Commonly called Teleportation. Subject is able to transport herself and anything she is touching at the time of transportation to another area within a set time and dimension.

Discipline 503

The highest level of Set 5 of the Disciplines. Commonly called Dialation. Subject is able to open a hole in space and/or time.