Reblog: Tamora Pierce and how to trip your character – in a good way

So this week has been full-on!, and NaNoWriMo is taking all my writing energy (!!!! 😀 ), so this post will be super short – cheers! But today’s “tip link” is something I know you’ll enjoy and find useful:

TIPS FOR BREAKING THROUGH the writer’s block wall.

Tamora Pierce from NNMW

Tamora Pierce
Image source: NNMW

In this great post in ‘NaNoWriMo pep talks’, Tamora Pierce talks about trying two super simple things to get your character moving again.

As for Tamora’s credentials, she is one of my favourite authors, and her writing is legitimately incredible! Her characters are believable and her plots are fantastic examples of medieval fantasy written for a younger audience that doesn’t dumb it down. I discovered her when I was ten and I’ve read almost every book she’s ever penned – which is a LOOOOOT of books.

Her idea #1 is my favourite:

Trip them up.

On the sidewalk. In a forest. Getting out of a swimming pool.

Tripping, no matter when or where it happens, is by nature an unexpected event. Depending on how tired they are, how many resources they have left, it’s something that can make your character overreact completely, do something crazy and uncharacteristic, or make them realise their newfound strength and rise to the challenge.

e.g. Whoops, my character broke their leg. Now they can either react by punching in the face the person who tripped them over, or my character can react by using the time off to do something they’ve always wanted to, accomplish a dream. Like painting a beautiful sunset. Or watching a Firefly marathon interrupted.

'The slip horse falling off a cliff' by Sidney Nolan

‘The slip horse falling off a cliff’ by Sidney Nolan

This horse (painted by the odd-but-amazing Sidney Nolan) fell off a cliff, poor fellow. Now that’s a bad day!

 

What’s a memorable time you tripped? Can you work it into your story somehow?

 

This post was written by TJ Withers-Ryan © 2014. Reblogging is highly encouraged as long as you credit me as the author.

Why editors can – and should – keep writing

Graphophobia - fear of writing. Image source: WeirdPhobia.com

Did you know this is a real thing? Woah!
Image source: WeirdPhobia.com

I recently interviewed for a position at a great publishing house (the dream job – ah!).

As the head editors were interviewing me, at one point, they said:

“So, it says here that you are also a writer?”

“Yes, absolutely; I’ve been writing since I could hold a pen. My first words were literally, ‘Book’ and ‘Read’. I wrote my first ‘book’ when I was four years old. ‘The Adventures of Freddy Fish’.”

“Wow!” said one.

“How do you do that?” asked the other.

I was surprised. “Um, I just love writing. It’s why I became an editor at all; I love reading and writing and I just want to make stories better wherever I can.”

“Wow,” said the first again. “I don’t think I could write anything anymore. Probably ever.”

“I haven’t read a book for fun in years, let alone written one.”

“Yeah, I mean, you’re reading other peoples’ writing all day, it just gets… It would be completely intimidating now to try and write something of my own. Because I know what it’s like, who’s going to be reading what I write. I’m used to sitting on this side of the desk now.”

“I don’t think I could take the rejection. Writers are very brave, I think.”

“Well, thank you,” I said.

And we moved on. Phew!

My point…

Editors are afraid to write because of their inner editors – just like normal writers. But we shouldn’t be, whether we’re a writer or an editor!

'Fear'. Image source: Kathy Coatney and Lisa Sorensen via Jean Oram via fellow blogger Jodie Llewellyn’s blog:

Image source: Kathy Coatney and Lisa Sorensen
via Jean Oram
via fellow blogger Jodie Llewellyn’s blog post

Whether you’re a writer or an editor, you should also be an editor and a writer. (Ooh, see what I did there?)

Writer, I really hope you’re self-editing your stuff before you show it around to people. Otherwise, I’m sorry, but you’re probably a really really poor writer. Sad face. 😦

And Editor, I really hope that you read and write as well. Otherwise, you just don’t know what it’s like for us writers. You don’t know what it took to get our babies – I mean, books – out of our heads and into the world, so you don’t treat our babies – books! (Wow, that keeps happening!) – as kindly as you could.

(Hey, if you could use the extra push, why not use NaNoWriMo to get you writing again this month? It’s fun!)

Editors in big firms and magazines don’t usually have time to write, I know, if you want to have any kind of home life and actually speak to your family once a day. You work long hours at the office and you don’t always get home for dinner. But J.K. Rowling was a waitress supporting her kids as a single mum when she wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, so not having enough time is not really a good excuse.

If you want to write, you don’t have time to write; you make time to write.

For more info, the Department of English at Florida Atlantic University pointed me to this great post, ‘Who edits the editors?’ by Mark Medley, which talks about famous editors who have become published authors. Cordite Poetry Review even published a poetry collection, Editorial Intervention, entirely made up of the poems written by poetry editors.

So, in summary, writers, take a deep breath and get to that self-editing; editors, be bold and get writing again. As the great Mark Twain once said:

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”

'Just Write'. Image source: Trent M Kays on Rhetorical Rumination

Image source: Trent M Kays on Rhetorical Rumination

 

 

Writers, how do you get past your fear and start editing your own work? Editors, how do you get past your fear and start writing?

 

This post was written by TJ Withers-Ryan © 2014. Reblogging is highly encouraged as long as you credit me as the author.

Writing about people you know – treading the fine line

Friends Season 1 Monica and Rachel Image source: 'FRIENDS' TV show via Hello Giggles

Friends Season 1 Monica and Rachel
Image source: ‘FRIENDS’ TV show via Hello Giggles

Rachel:                Oh, and I’m sorry I said you were a cow in high school.

Monica:               That’s okay. I was a cow.

Rachel:                Yes, but I’m still sorry I said it.

– Friends, Season 1, Episode 17 “The One With Two Parts”

Disclaimer:

This post offers a broad overview of defamation law but is not intended to be read as legal advice. This is a complex legal issue that should not be taken lightly. If you have concerns about your own writing with regards to libel liability, you should seek independent legal advice.

I’ve had authors who were worried about writing about the people in their family. Memoirs are always a bit tricky like that. It’s your story, but it’s also the story of how your life was affected by them.

It’s more complicated than just which details to include and which to leave out. It becomes a question of, do you even want to represent them as themselves, or would you rather change their name, age, occupation, everything, in fact, apart from what they did for you or how they impacted on your life?

It doesn’t have to be for negative reasons. Some people really don’t want the credit. One of the writers I knew in uni wrote their own stories as novels because they didn’t want their subject to be embarrassed by how the writer looked up to them as their role model, their hero.

At the Brisbane Writers Festival, I heard a great talk by Sian Prior about her memoir, ‘Shy’, which chronicles her struggles with social anxiety. She wrote about living in the shadow of an ex of hers who was very famous. In her case, she said she didn’t need to check with him before writing about him. They had already parted ways, but more importantly, he had already written about their relationship in his own book! He’d already set the rules by not asking her before he wrote about her.

Her approach, knowing that she would uncover things about their relationship that people didn’t know, was to be rigorous about being honest. By contrast, she did check with her family about her portrayal of each of them, and they were all surprised but happy with her including them in her story.

Lots of people worry about defamation law – specifically, the written form, ‘libel’. Here’s the raw basics:

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Happiness and creativity: Why you shouldn’t write a sad song until you’re feeling better

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” ― Anne Frank

 

Happy lightbulb man from Scientific American

Image Source: Scientific American

Do you need to be happy to be inspired? Or do you need to be a tortured artist in order to be inspired? It’s an age-old question, and there’s a growing body of science providing answers to it.

 

I’ve been studying a psychology unit through edX Berkeley online called GG101 ‘The Science of Happiness’, and the experimental studies that have been performed in this area of creativity-and-happiness have been fascinating.

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Keep on creating – lessons from the masters 2 – Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the best-selling book / movie Eat Pray Love, has always been a fascinating speaker to me.

For Elizabeth Gilbert, the success of Eat Pray Love meant a form of failure.  Her next book completely bombed because everyone who wanted a sequel to Eat Pray Love didn’t get it, and everyone who hated Eat Pray Love was annoyed that she had written another book.

But what could she do about that?  Nothing.

So she says she had a choice – to retire and move to some gorgeous villa, or to keep writing and see if she couldn’t succeed/fail again.  If she was going to avoid being paralysed as a writer and a human being, she had to get up and get started on her next book.

TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert: 'Success, failure, and the drive to keep creating'

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How struggle grows creativity

This post begins with viniculture and ends with your created masterpiece.

Why viniculture?  Because viniculture is seriously hard.  See, wine comes from grapes.  And grapes are relatively “easy” to grow, but good wine is really difficult to make.  If you want good wine, you have to make your grapes struggle for it.

Photo of Grapes

Tasy, tasty grapes

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Does adulthood squash creativity or am I just lazy?

This post will be a rant.  Expect it.  Don’t be too disappointed.

See how I make disclaimers?  That’s because I’m an adult.  And adults have expectations of other adults.

The expectation that I am fighting off by this disclaimer is that I should be able to write a coherent post because I am an adult and I am educated and I call myself a writer and I edit other people’s writing for a living and I got enough sleep last night.

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Pros and cons of being a freelancer

Everyone has their own assumptions about what it’s like to be a freelancer.

 

Here’s what it is like for me and for the friends I know who are freelancers:

 

Pros Cons
I set my own schedule.I can take a break when I need to. I set my own schedule.That means I become a workaholic, working 6 days a week when I can because I know I need money for the weeks when I don’t have work.
I negotiate my own contracts and pay. Because I negotiate my own pay, I sometimes end up being paid “mate’s rates”.
I work from home or at my local library, so I’m more comfortable than in someone else’s workplace.I get to work in my PJs while listening to music! I work from home.I don’t get to “go in to the office”. I have to be responsible for my own time.I have to make sure my internet is reliable.
I get to choose my own contracts. I am constantly searching for new contracts.As outsourcing becomes more common, there are fewer contracts that pay a standard Australian rate.
I get to take a lunch break with friends. I can’t just “duck out” to take lunch with my friends who work in the city – there’s travel time involved.
Clients are sometimes unreliable when it comes to paying you or providing you with the right files to work with.

 

If you’re new to the creative workplace, what have been your experiences so far?

And if you need an editor for your novel, children’s book, memoir, textbook, website, company newsletter, or “other”, please let me know! Visit my freelance services page for more details on my services and to get in touch. I’d love to hear from you!

View my rates for editing, copywriting, or proofreading, on my Freelance Services page!

View my rates for editing, copywriting, or proofreading, on my Freelance Services page!

 

This post was written by TJ Withers-Ryan © 2013. Reblogging is highly encouraged as long as you credit me as the author.

Working Creatively Under Pressure

Coming to hang out at GenreCon 2013 on Saturday 18th? Shoot me an email (see my Contact Us section)!

Today is all about being creative under pressure. In the workplace, whether you are a person doing creative work in a non-creative industry, or a person doing creative work in a creative industry, we all work to various deadlines, and you need to know how to harness your creative process in a hurry!

The best example of successfully doing creative work under pressure is fairly ancient. The story of ‘One thousand and one nights’, also known as ‘Arabian nights’, is the story of Scheherezade in Arabia.

Princess Dunyazade

A portrait of Princess Dunyazade (‘The Coffee Bearer’) by John Frederick Lewis

When a Persian king, Shahryar, discovers that his wife has been unfaithful to him, he has her executed. He keeps on marrying a bunch of women, but each time, he executes her the morning after their wedding, before she has a chance to be unfaithful to him. It is the vizier’s job to provide these virgins to marry the king, but one day he finds they’ve run out! So his daughter, Scheherezade, convinces her father to let her be the next bride.

On the night of Scheherezade’s marriage to the king, she begins telling the king a tale, but she doesn’t give him the ending. He’s so curious to know how the story ends that he doesn’t execute her the next morning. He figures he’ll just wait until he’s heard the ending, then execute her the next morning. But that night, Scheherezade finishes that story and starts right into a new one. But she doesn’t finish it! So the king is forced to keep her alive for one thousand and one nights.

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Never hold back – Daniel – “Even if…”

When is faith in action ever easy?  But the Bible has some incredible stories about faith in action being rewarded by God!

In Daniel 3:16 – 18, Daniel’s mates (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, aka Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah) are about to get thrown in the fire, and they give one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard:

“The three of them replied to the king, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you about this anymore.  If we get chucked into the blazing furnace that you’ve made, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it.  He will save us from Your Majesty’s power.   But we want you to know this: Even if we knew that our God wouldn’t save us, we still wouldn’t serve your gods and worship them instead.

Woah!

Even if God won’t save me, I’ll still call him my number one God?  I’ll still trust and worship him?

It’s crazy stuff.

It’s awesome stuff.

And God did save them – even more awesome! He provided an angel who stood with them in the fire so that they wouldn’t be burned up. By contrast, the soldiers who had to throw them into the furnace were all burned up immediately by the incredible heat.

Four in the fire from Keith Nicolas WordPress blog

Four in the fire from Keith Nicolas WordPress blog

There have been several moments in my life where God has said, “Even if *this bad thing happens* or *this good thing never happens*, will you still follow me?  Will you still worship me?” and I’ve said yes!  And I’ve known some great friends who’ve had the absolute worst happen and still love and trust God with everything they have.

But today isn’t about me or them or the past – although we’d happily give you details of what God’s done in our lives any time.  It’s about right now, your present situation.

Where is God asking you to let go of control of your life?

Where can you see God asking, “Even if the worst should happen, will you still trust me?”

 

This post was written by TJ Withers-Ryan © 2013. Reblogging is highly encouraged as long as you credit me as the author.