College Life

So I’ve decided not to apologise for my inability to update regularly anymore. I have a busy schedule. I’m at university now and living on campus (best decision). I’ll be applying for Vet Science next year, so *fingers crossed*.

In the last few months I’ve made new friends, had to say goodbye to almost all of them (international students that were only here for a semester), made new ones, etc. I wanted a social year and got one.

I go home every few weeks to see family and give them a hand on the property. Elmo is huge! Fred and Heidi are shooting up too. They’ve all left the house yard now, so I have to go for a drive to see them. We had another grain poddy (too late to bottle feed) called Indie, but she disappeared about a month ago. We still haven’t found her. From left to right: Heidi, Fred, Indie, and Elmo.

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Finding time to write, read, or exercise has been a challenge. I study a little too hard, and have to remember to take a break sometimes. HFI is in the editing stages now. I’m terrible for underwriting, so there’s heaps to do before I’m willing to share it with the world.

I started planning for NaNoWriMo yesterday, so I guess I’ll be doing that again this year, haha.

What else?

Oh, I’m learning how to touch type. I don’t know why I never tried to learn it before. It takes a bit of focus at the moment, but I’ve gone from 11wph (without looking at the keyboard) to 28wph (with 98% accuracy) in four weeks. Keeping in mind that I’m doing this on top of studying, that’s not too shabby.

I also found a few perks of living on campus. For one, the unlimited internet is nice. Back at home we had 15GB between five people to last a month. I also get access to the university database (and there are HEAPS of books on fiction writing for free). Finally, I don’t have to cook. Uni food can be gross, but there’s always a salad option or peanut butter/Nutella available.

I think that’s it.

Anyway, I should get back to studying =P

Currently reading: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas (Everytime I start reading it I get the urge to write, which is why it’s taking so long).

 

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New Ideas & Learning from the Pros

I used to think that working on more than one writing project at a time would lead to hundreds of unfinished stories. In a way, I still do. But after trying to write the same novel for almost 2 years, I needed a break.

While at work, I came up with a ‘what if’ that evolved into a story idea:

What if humans are incapable of seeing perfection?

A bunch of other questions popped up after that, until I ended up with a high fantasy story idea (I’m calling it HFI until I find a better name) that feels like a fairy-tale. A dark fairy-tale if that’s possible.

This all sounded great—to me at least—until I realised it needed to be written in 3rd person.

I have very limited experience with writing in 3rd person. I needed help, so I decided to learn from authors with a few books under their belts. I could’ve chosen any experienced writers, but I wanted their books to be in the same genre as mine. It also helped that their characters are around the same age as the ones I’m writing about. I ended up picking Garth Nix, Kristin Cashore, and Sarah J. Maas.

Below are a few notes I made while flicking through their books. (Please remember that the notes taken are not a reflection of the writer’s work. I wrote whatever thoughts ran through my head at the time, including things I needed to remember during the first draft—I get bogged by all the ‘rules’ and forget that I can break them whenever I want).

Sabriel – Garth Nix

  • Allow yourself to use as many adverbs and adjectives as you want in the first draft. Include empty words. Most can be removed during editing. Don’t delete all, or it will feel stilted.
  • Break rules. Use was, had, did, has, etc.
  • Determine the character’s voice and use it. Don’t let the writing be stiff just because it’s 3rd
  • Everyone sees things differently. Let the character’s view of the world speak.
  • Allow yourself to write paragraphs of history and information. It doesn’t all have to be used in dialogue.
  • Include plenty of description. Don’t imply everything and hope the reader is paying attention. Make the world vivid and real in the reader’s mind, even if you have to make it real in yours first.

Graceling – Kristin Cashore

  • Make the writing reflect the character’s mood, task, or motive. When the character is focussed on a task, give the writing tunnel vision.
  • Every character will use a different vocabulary and pause at different places. Some will use long sentences; others will speak in short sentences with very direct content. Includes using contractions and the Oxford ‘and’.
  • The characters will keep track of the weather, season, and time of day if they don’t have access to clocks or calendars. Weather will affect the difficulty of a task and possible outcome.
  • Vary sentence length and syntax (where commas are placed).
  • Give the character an opinion about their superiors, inferiors, and equals. Bring it up when describing scenes with these people.

Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas

  • Make the writing feel personal. Imagine you’re writing in 1st person, but with ‘she’/’he’ and character names instead of ‘I’. If that is too difficult, write it in 1st person and convert it to 3rd during revisions.
  • If writing with multiple POV characters, make it clear which character is speaking within the first paragraph. This is especially important when both are in the scene.
  • Doesn’t have to mention a name. Could use a feature, an action, a setting, surrounding characters, or unique voice/quirk of that character.
  • Every character will have their prejudices. They will all be unreliable narrators in some way. Don’t let a character be perfect or have a clear view of the world.
  • Look into their history. Their experiences will shape how they see the world and the people around them.
  • A minor villain can simply be misunderstood. Let the enemy of one character be understood and respected by another
  • This also applies to POV characters. The actions of one POV character will not always be understood by anther POV character.
  • Don’t explain the motives of one character to another unless there is a severe disagreement and they feel obligated to explain themselves. Some may lie to avoid vulnerability.

Have you ever done something similar to this? Do you have any advice or want to include something I missed? Tell me in the comments