C. S. Lewis wrote an essay called “On Three Ways of Writing for Children,” that, as you might imagine, is an excellent read. It covers a lot of ground, from defending ‘faerie tales’ to discussing ‘morals’ in stories. One passage that caught my interest, however, was his description of how he comes up with his stories.
This topic has been an interest of mine for a while. Maggie Stiefvater (aka my favorite author after Lewis himself) teamed up with two other writers, Brenna Yovanoff and Tessa Gratton, to publish an anthology called The Anatomy of Curiosity that showcased how each author approached writing a story. Seeing their process, and comparing it with my own, was fascinating.
Y’all. These past couple months have been crazy.
I know I’ve somewhat disappeared on here, but I’m back! … for now. I have a couple reviews planned for the
distant near future, but I found a tag that looks fun and wraps up my year in books, so here you go!
Over this past summer, I did not get much reading done. However, I did do three things that fueled this post: plotted a novel involving fairies, listened to countless hours of a paranormal podcast, and binged an urban fantasy tv show. Because of this, I’ve run into many paranormal creatures recently that I had never heard of before.
These creatures are a great way to flavor your story, whether you write epic fantasy, or more urban fantasy. So here are five awesome paranormal creatures to write about.
Editing. You either love it or hate it, but either way, it has to be done. Tackling edits on an entire novel can be overwhelming, so thought I’d lay out how I approach them in hopes the ideas will help you.
Editing is kind of a big deal. It’s what sets the stories I take seriously apart from the ‘just for fun’ stories.
However, the first time I sat down to edit a draft, I drew a blank. I had the words on the page and I had a general idea of what I wanted my story to look like, but I had no idea how to make those the same thing.
If you’re in the same boat right now (or will be soon), here’s what I’ve figured out for editing, based on advice I’ve heard and a bit of trial-and-error.
I don’t know about you, but plotting is probably my favorite part of writing a novel. That’s when I get to be creative. I figure out what makes my characters tick, how scenes that have been brewing in my head fit together, and what type of conflict will drive the story.
Of course, I end up fixing my outline later on, and usually end up clarifying and adding onto the ideas, but this part is when I intentionally set everything else aside and just try to create a story.
I’m actually in the process of plotting out a new book right now, and I’m super excited about it. Because I like this part so much, I try to have everything just right to maximize my enjoyment. Here are the 5 things I realized that I need when I’m plotting a book.
Good Omens is my summer fling. I read and watched it within a couple weeks, and still enjoy scrolling through its memes during my lunch breaks.
Good Omens is awesome because it’s so full of humor. From the line “Get thee behind me, foul fiend… after you,” to the way Hastur screamed as Ligur disintegrated, the tiny moments are what make the show worthwhile. Sure, the premise is funny, and it would still be ‘good’ if it just told the story. But there is so much comedy gold in the specific details, and that’s what really makes the story come alive.
I have a confession to make: I struggled to get through Jessica Jones season 3. Season 1 was one of my favorite series ever (I even wrote two blog posts on it: about personal responsibility and themes in general). Season 2 was enjoyable to watch, but it didn’t live up to the first. And season 3? It did not hold my attention.
This got me wondering: were the second two seasons worth telling? Well, it’s a tv show. That’s what tv shows do. They continually come up with new problems to solve. But is Jessica’s story best told as a serialized tv show? Once she beat Killgrave, it felt like her story was over. We now know she’s going to keep fighting bad guys. While watching her prove that is entertaining, it doesn’t feel necessary. Jessica’s story didn’t need to be told as a continuing tv show.
A friend and I once spent two hours taking this love language test. If you go to it, you’ll see that it should not take two hours to complete, but sometimes life goes like that.
The five love languages are the five different ways you like to express and receive love, whether through actions, or words, or something else. People prefer one or two types of love languages to the others. They aren’t inherently romantic, either. They apply just as well to friendships, or family relationships, or other things.
Part of the reason the quiz took so long for us is that we got to talking about what makes us ship characters, and that made me realize how much our particular love language makes us enjoy a reading or watching a relationship, and made me wonder how it could influence our writing.
I recently got to see the musical Dear Evan Hansen, which was pretty cool. I didn’t know much about it (I’d listened to most of the soundtrack once, but that was it), so it was fun to watch the story unfold. There was a lot about it that I really enjoyed, but one thing in particular stood out to me from a storytelling aspect.
Much of the musical deals with loneliness, depression, and suicide, and many of the characters feel like no one would notice if they disappear. There can be lots of stereotypes around these topics, which makes it easy to generalize about complex issues. Dear Evan Hansen avoids stereotyping by portraying different characters dealing with the same issue in different ways. This happens most notably with Alana, a side character.