The Writer’s Room
Hi from Elsh,
Checking in. I tried the ficly a day challenge, and I made it a month, but then college classwork took over all my spare hours outside of full-time teaching and raising two kids and remembering who my husband is.
I can’t wait to come back! (Spring break is around the corner.)
So, I am putting the question to you guys, tirelessly keeping this place alive. How do you make time, find time, steal time, or have time to continue listening to your muses and producing awesome snippets of fiction (and not-so fiction)??
Post your tips below.
New Year’s is always a time when I look at my goals. It’s important to reevaluate yourself, take stock of what you have, where you’ve been, where you want to go.
This also applies to writing.
Say you have a goal to write more, then join in AdrianHD’s Ficly a day challenge!
Perhaps you would rather edit and complete a manuscript this year to be ready to submit it.
Sorry, there’s not a Ficly challenge for that. However, there are a few blog posts to encourage you and maybe help you out.
I always find it the most difficult, but also the most rewarding, to finally write an ending to a novel. Sometimes the ending seems very far away and hard to reach. When all the loose ends are tied (or at least most of them) a satisfaction washes over you as you realize the story has come to its natural conclusion. You suddenly feel like celebrating. The freedom, the weightlessness, the happiness of being unburdened of such an overwhelming task envelops you and float to the metaphorical ceiling with joy. It reminds me of the fizzy pop Charlie and his Grandpa Joe drink in Willy Wonka’s factory.
November is the month for writing.
I want to. Oh, how I want to!
My writing muscle needs flexing. I think I have a cramp.
Here is the perfect month, the perfect opportunity. NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. Writers everywhere sit typing in short bursts, typing anything and everything that comes to mind; saving often, coffee and hot cocoa going cold beside them.
I am pining. I am withering!
I have not joined the ranks.
With a few new people, and the blog lacking new material (oops), allow me to provide some base advice to those new here and some reminders to those lurking on the sidelines thinking they should wait for old friends to return before becoming active. If we all wait, nothing happens!
How to Get Involved:
The first thing you should do is comment on a story. Go comment on several and make some friends.
- Return Comment
If someone comments on your story, return the favor. Offer up words of support, constructive criticism, advice, or awe.
Click on an author you think is da bomb and follow them.
If you are followed by someone who thinks you are awesome, it is good manners to follow them back. You can click on the blue numbers above your followers to see a list of all of them if the number exceeds the viewable icon limits. This allows you to see all of their activity on your homepage
I don’t know about you, but I am heaving a huge sigh of relief over the completion of NaFicWriMo.
Some of the things felt rushed and I learned that I prefer to take my time and craft a story, really fall in love with it, over having a deadline and some pressure. The most the deadline did for me was nag at me to do something.
I picked up the proverbial pen and spewed forth words, but without the quality I desire for every piece. Some of them felt flat. That’s okay.
June is over. So let us move forward to the new challenge: SEQUELS
Scrawler’s Secret posted this challenge, which bears repeating LOUDLY from every rampart, bridge, tower, and observatory of the Ficly House. (See Our Strange And Wonderful House http://ficly.com/challenges/953)
Who here has heard of National novel writing month? Raise your hand. Those who haven’t go to www.nanowrimo.org.
It is a great challenge, writing 50,000 words in a month. But as you all know, not everyone particularly cares for writing novels.
For “National Ficly/Ficlet Writing Month” I challenge you to write one Ficly, Ficlet for older members, each day of the month of June. In honor of this, and as a reminder, there will be a new button at the top of the webpage, for June only, that links to the official challenge, not to be judged.
Do not enter the stories as if they were part of the challenge, instead tag them with NaFicWriMo.
The catch: None of them can be a prequel or sequel, of your own work or of others’. One. New. Ficly. A. Day.
You have the rest of May to prepare.
Dig deep and find your original ideas hiding inside as you burrow through the words laying near the surface.
(Adding a room to the Ficly House for yourself is a viable entry for at least one day of June!)
There are multiple definitions for the word Draft.
I attended an Able Bodied Seaman’s course. I had to get the license to work on a dock. Years later I spent a few summers sailing.
In class, I was drawn to the word Draft and it’s marine/boating definition. I had heard the word many times before: Army draft, drafting table, writing a draft, drafting while riding a bike and a wind’s draft. But I never heard it used in it’s nautical form.
Basically, Draft in maritime terms, is actually a question: ‘How is my boat settled in the water?’. A boat’s final draft measurement consists of multiple measurements of where the water is touching the boat’s hull, how the boat is riding in the water.
I found this definition could also be a map. How is a person floating in life? What is my role in this relationship? Am I trying to carry to much? Am I floating or sinking? And lately, Can I make my story (idea) float?
[Slightly edited by ElshaHawk]
(Source: Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters)
Notes/Letters between John Steinbeck and the many players in publishing his book, East of Eden. Pat is his editor.
This is the International Day of Awesomeness. An explanation can be found here.
So be awesome, and write this post.
YOU are awesome and you can do this. Leave your awesome thoughts below.
What is awesome?
Why are you awesome?
When is the most awesome time?
How can we all learn to be more awesome?
Where is it best to be awesome?
Ah, February. A time marked by the ancient practice of showering someone you love in little tithes of your devotion.
Here on Ficly, a disturbing trend has emerged in this month of love — stories about blood, cutting, suicide, addiction, and death.
Has February become a second October??
So you’ve written your story. Look! Words! Sentences! Paragraphs! Time to publish! Seriously? Are you kidding me?
I look at story writing for Ficly as having two separate processes, writing and editing, and I switch back and forth between them at will. What happens in these processes is entirely different. When I write, I work out the details of the plot, invent the characters with their salient characteristics, and express my ideas in words in an effort to make the story leave my brain and splash onto the page.
Once I’ve done that, the hard work begins. Editing… it isn’t just making certain that the spelling and grammar of the piece are correct. There’s a lot of other factors that need to be considered. What follows is probably a very incomplete guide regarding things to think about when editing. These aren’t rules. Plainly and simply, if you don’t think that a particular guideline is appropriate to the story you’re writing, don’t follow it but do that knowingly.
Since most people do think about spelling and grammar when they think about editing, let’s get that one out of the way first so we can focus on more interesting things. Spelling, grammar and punctuation are important for one reason and one reason alone: you should not expect anyone else to take your writing seriously if you can’t be bothered to take even the most basic of interest in the presentation of your own story. First impressions are important. Done with that.
Now comes the interesting part. Dismiss that writer part of you from the room. Read your piece several times through as though you were not its author, and ask yourself the following questions as you do.
It’s the time of year for reflection…
This year was the first that many of my good friends made right here have abandoned our personal chats for their academic pursuits.
This is the first year I feel alone.
Granted, it was always going to happen, all of us being from separate countries and states. Life events were going to get in the way. Even knowing that could not ease the sting.
We’ve always said how much ficly was like a family; the way we really got to know one another, wrote each other into series’, noted back and forth, commented on each others works. We held together while the old site died and this new one was born, then again as the first wave of newbies joined in and ruffled feathers, or others spammed the place up. We stayed in touch during Nano and supported each other when our muses failed.
I miss that.
Nanowrimo is officially over. Most years, I’m ready to edit my November beast of a novel into something more, but I ended this year with a head cold and really could not care about editing.
Instead, I am challenging myself, and you also, to keep writing! I know that after pounding out 50,000 words, the last thing you (or I) want to do is come up with MORE material.
I’ve got news for you, that’s what we writers do!
For every day you take off writing, your muse will take off three!
I first blogged for ficly just over a year ago, after sending THX a note suggesting that we have a blog about the upcoming writing challenge that would be consuming my November. He replied, agreeing that there should be a blog, and asked me if I would write it. Gladly, I accepted. Basically, I took it upon myself to be the herald of the apocalypse that is the National Novel Writing Month challenge.
Elsha briefly mentioned “Nano” in the last blog post, and for most of you avid Ficlers out there, I’m sure that’s enough to reignite the sparkplugs in your brain that make you write obscenely large numbers of words each day. But I have noticed the small army of new blood that’s entered our brain trusts over the last year, and it’s for you that I write this blog post, to tell you what it’s all about.
Not much action over on the forum, so you must all be gearing up for Nano! Either that or ‘Occupy-ing’ your town…but enough political yammering, this is a writing site!
Back to the forum, 32 Squared shares a link that is truly inspiring. A story that first appeared as comments on reddit.com has become a movie!
There are countless ficly series’ that deserve a movie! I agree with Squared:
“Why can’t this happen for ficly?”
Stumbling to the top of the highest hill overlooking a valley dark with spilled ink and good intentions, staggers a lone, short figure resolute in her duty. With her remaining strength she works, unfurling a blood and sweat soaked, frayed and muddied standard. Threading its eyelets along the clip of a giant pen with numb fingers, she sways in exhaustion. Finished, she checks her ties and with a gutteral yell the whole valley can hear, she thrusts the giant ballpoint tip into the soft earth.
A stiff breeze catches the fabric and a standard proclaims the victors of a hard fought battle.
Slowly, figures climb the hill to salute the standard, recoup, and help each other honor the flag of their freedom. Freedom to comment. A pledge for cooperation. A talisman for Awesomeness.
Ficly is a family and like all families, it’s quickly changing. Little chicks grow and soon leave the nest; family members come and go.
That means there is ALWAYS a space at the table for you!
Would you like to feel more involved in the ficly community?
Do you have a topic, idea, or burning desire to share your thoughts about ficly and writing with others?
Join the bullpen! We convene at ficly.freeforums.org.
Not only am I writing a story right now, but I am simultaneously reading a few books. Reading with my writing in mind, I stumble upon inspiring tidbits that I can incorporate to make my own story better, stronger.
For example, relationships between middle aged adults are expected to have gone through some hardship and therefore it’s not so traumatic when you hear they have broken up or had a fight. (They are often secondary characters, anyway.) On the other hand, relationship failures between youths are more tragic to the reader; perhaps because first-times hold much more emotional trauma in our lives. Can you think of any stories where youths are not more sympathized with than grown ups?
Recently, I have had many friends take a leave of absence from our normal communication routines. Whether it is travel, school, work, or something else, it is nice to be able to stay in touch. While I have Skype for some, twitter, facebook, Google Plus, or IM for others, nothing beats a good old fashioned snail-mail letter. I know, I know, low tech, but before you shun me, let me make my point.
When I wrote out my first draft correspondence, it was awkward and messy. I had to think harder, to write too much and then edit it down to fit in an envelope. I had to better word my feelings than ‘lol’ or ‘smh’. And much like sealing a manuscript into a manilla envelope and wishing for the best, writing that address on the outside of the envelope and attaching a stamp became an unexpected emotional ordeal. This was a piece of my heart I was sending on it’s merry way, each word carefully thought out. How would the other person receive it?
Writer’s block is more closely related to unreasonably high standards than it is to bouts of utter blankness of thought. I mean, the words are always there, right? They haven’t squealed out of the driveway in your car. They’re half stuck in the ground just waiting to be unearthed, polished, and constructed into the storied chapters of your skyscraping novel, or thatched into the loose-leaf roof that tops your poem’s humble hut.
Imagine a plumber stepping away from a flooded sink, yanking his pants back into place, and attributing his work stoppage to “plumber’s block.” How ridiculous? That would never fly. So how do writers get away with it?
I’m beginning to lose patience for people who “want to do things”. I think having dreams and goals is good for a person, but a lot of people in my life have recently adopted a defeatist attitude. Usually the invisible ending to “I want to that-”, or “I wish I could do that-”, or “I’d like to do that-” is “-but I can’t.”
Yes, you can. I fill up my days so that I am busy every day of the week (or near enough). From sports to video games, to creative writing labs, I don’t leave myself a lot of down time. There is very little time spent on a couch flipping through channels filled with junk. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll make time for Fringe, Good Eats, or the Daily Show but I don’t sit down to watch tv with nothing in mind. I’m not looking for a pat on the back. I don’t need it- I’m busy!
The same people who have been telling me they “want to do things” also call me lucky. Luck has very little to do with it. I put together most of the events. I plan the things that I want to do, and here is the key part-then I do them. I would say that the only lucky part of my life is being open to opportunities that presented themselves. I would never have started playing Thursday night foursquare (yes with the red rubber ball) if I hadn’t of accepted the random invitation by a stranger in an English class.
How does this relate to you?
Thomas Bulfinch, when writing his Age of Fable: Vol. III: The Age of Chivalry stated the need of “some check upon the lawless power”. In his introduction of King Arthur and His Knights. he listed restraints upon the corruption of society – the last of them being – “…the generosity and sense of right which, however crushed under the weight of passion and selfishness, dwell naturally in the heart of man”. From this “sense of right” he wrote “sprang Chivalry, which framed an ideal of the heroic character, combining invincible strength and valor, justice, modesty, loyalty to superiors, courtesy to equals, compassion to weakness,..” Nice points to keep in mind when commenting; principles by which all who comment should ascribe to.
These values are what we often use to define the legendary knights of feudal times. Notice though, how Bulfinch defines the fabled Knight: “The word “knight,” which originally meant boy or servant, was particularly applied to a young man after he was admitted to the privilege of bearing arms.” It’s been said that a Knight is knighted by taking an oath to protect the distraught, maintain the order, and live an honorable life, nevertheless, without the “privilege of bearing arms”- a Knight is but a boy!
In the name of Chivalry and for the desire of Contest, I, Sir Bic of Ficly, implore thee, my fellow Ficlyteers, to “A Call to Arms”. I beseech one and all to join me in The Tournament of the Comment!
Many of us are open to it, we love getting feedback and want to improve. Any comment is appreciated. As SirBic says: “Effective feedback can be any feedback; writers just want to be read.”
But if you are going for comments that make a difference, consider how you present it. In the cautious words of August Rode: “You may run into authors who don’t want criticism. They’ll likely tell you so. If they ask you not to critique their work, don’t do so in future.” As a writer, the hardest thing to do is to offer up something you put a great deal of effort into and find it smashed to bits along with your pride. So as a commenter, how should you get the word across that something needs work?
Has this happened to you?
You’ve just finished the best piece you’d written, thus far, and you push the “Publish” button. “Hurray”, the screen says back and you know, you just know, your fellow Ficleteers will be commenting on the newly released masterpiece real soon! So you wait. You push the “Home” icon to refresh the screen – nothing. You wait some more. Refresh – nothing. Is something wrong with the website, you wonder, Didn’t I push “publish”? Is it still in my drafts? With anxious insatiability you wait some more.
A screen refresh a few minutes later reveals someone else has posted a story and your masterpiece is slowly traveling down the “Recent” column and into oblivion. “Oh, I hope nobody else posts a story!” you blurt. Trembling, you refresh the screen more frequently; another story appears, then another and another! You’re shaking so profusely now that it takes nearly everything you have to keep your mouse hovering over the “Home” icon, barely mustering the strength to continue to left-click.
As any writer will tell you, the key to a good story is good characters. Characters need definition, because without definition, they are empty, soulless vessels, incapable of conveying emotion to our readers. If you fail to describe, you describe to fail. There. Stings doesn’t it?
There are different ways to do this, so try and change it up! Maybe describe one character by her actions; “She lashed out with a beautiful leg, digging her long, sharp heels into his fleshy waist”, and another as they’re noticed; “He emerged from the shadows, and my eyes were immediately drawn to his beaten, bloody face, betraying the downtrodden man it belonged to.”
But it’s not all just describing characters and mixing up your style, you also have to use the right words. ‘The quick brown fox’ didn’t ‘jump over the lazy dog’, instead, ‘The nimble, agile vixen leapt over the slothlike mutt, as the moonlight hit her beautiful coat of fur with its dazzling bronze sheen’. Abandon the mundane and embrace the extravagant! Red is crimson. Cut is gash. Long black hair is an ebony mane. Yes, you should mix in ‘red’ and ‘cut’ sometimes, but I encourage you to expand your vocabulary.
(Part one of a series on Character)
“Cut!” the movie star says.
“You don’t yell, ‘Cut,’ baby,” the director responds. “That’s my job.”
“But I don’t get it. I’m running from rooftop to rooftop, carrying a pig under one arm and swinging a nine iron in the other. What’s my motivation?”
“Baby, what are you making on this picture?”
“You wanna make another twenty on the sequel?”
“That’s your motivation.”
So goes the joke. But it raises the question: Do we think about why our characters do what they do? Or do we just let them do? Do we know their motivation?
When I was a youngster, growing up in south Texas, I more than once had a lunchtime showdown with the schoolyard bully. I wore just a half-pint hat back then and the bully must’ve had a ten gallon head. So you’d have imagined then, that this noontime duel would cause quite a stir. And in fact it did. The cafeteria was a buzz that morning, all the kith and kinfolk were talking. “Why’d that little guy wanna go and do that?” they’d say. “Why’s he wanna get himself all beat up and all?”
Sure I was little, and surely as the sun would rise, I was going to get my face smashed in by that mammoth of a twelve-year-old who shopped in the men’s section of K-Mart. But I wasn’t the littlest one, there were those smaller than me, those that needed me to take a stand. Day after day the playground was terrorized by idle threats and hair-pulling harassment. It had to stop.
Little Billy had brought his favorite ball to school that day, the day I risked my life, and was showing it to all the kids there in morning recess. He was so proud of the colorful spiral swirls and the “undeniable fact” that it could bounce as high as the tip top of the flag pole. Now we all knew that Billy’s ball wasn’t “all that”, but we liked Billy and we took turns asking to see it and telling him how cool it was. “Don’t bounce it,” he would say, “I don’t want to wear it out.”
“What’d you say,” the gargantuan grunted, “you want me to bounce it?” That’s when, the bully took the ball from Billy and pounded it off the sidewalk as hard as he could, which was pretty hard let me tell you. We all stood in silence, the shock and awe of it all paralyzed us in fear. When the beautiful ball had bounced on to the gymnasium roof and into the gutter, Billy began to cry. Without thinking, I pushed the King Kong of a kid, telling him what a complete jerk he was. Thankfully the bell rang just as I saw the anger welling up in the big boy’s eyes. “I’ll get you at recess!” he said pointing his sausage sized finger at me.
Hullo, greetings and salutations! We may or may not have met yet. My name is Robert Quick. I haven’t been here for very long (a little more than a year) and I wasn’t a part of the original Ficlets when it was around. My introduction to Ficly was through Wil Wheaton’s podcast Radio Free Burrito (which you should check out!). Three things you should know about me:
1) I love science-fiction and fantasy (though I prefer well crafted ANYTHING over sci-fi schlock)
2) I am color-blind- though a friend codified it better by calling it color confused
3) My goal is to hone my writing for novels or to be a part of a group that creates stories and worlds for games.
Nearly all great art comes from a direct interpretation of reality. I am a failed artist (drawing), but the advice I got from all of my art buddies and my art books was always the same- draw what you see. As writers we should do the same, except with words.
‘Method is much, technique is much, but inspiration is even more.’ – Benjamin Cardozo, United States Supreme Court Justice
There is no doubt that as writers we will all need to develop a method that works for us and procures our best work. There is no denying, however, that without inspiration there would be no method; without inspiration, there is no technique to develop.
The first thing a writer must do is become inspired. To that end, I am happy to have a share in the new chapter of Ficly blogging and I hope this blog continues to be a blog of inspiration. If we can share what inspires us and in doing so inspire someone else, then, in essence, we’ve sent a person off on their road to success.
Ficly is the medium that allows us to do just that. Here in the wonderful land of Ficly we find inspiration in the writings of others, the challenges we offer to all those who wish to participate and the comments and pencil ratings that make us feel – just plain good.
Ficly inspires me. You inspire me. – Thank you for reading what I write.
I am extremely depressed at this moment in time. Why am I depressed, I hear you ask. Well, it is of course due to the untimely death of the ‘Inspiration’ button. I loved that enigmatic, lazy, slightly useless little guy. OK, extremely useless. But even though it did nothing by itself, it still inspired me. Who wouldn’t be inspired by a big red button that’s probably meant to do something, but nobody’s quite sure what it is?
But now it’s gone. And I guess I’ll just have to find inspiration elsewhere. Personally, I get a lot of my inspiration from books. I read a lot of Rowling, a lot of Tolkien. I just finished Paolo Coelho’s The Alchemist, and I’m now working my way through The Odyssey.
I also get a lot from my crazy brain. When I see something, a chain reaction of thoughts and images kicks off in my head, which can inspire me to write.
But that’s just me. And it dawns on me that knowing where I find inspiration, better enables me to find it again.
For me, sometimes just clicking on ‘write’ and opening up that window when I have even a whisper of an idea is enough to motivate me to start typing. More often,