It's a Writer Thing

Whether or not you write well, write bravely.

545 notes

Anonymous asked: I've researched unreliable narrator, but every website I find tells me what an unreliable narrator is, not how your write an unreliable narrator. Do you just outright lie in the story? I'm so confused.

thewritingcafe:

It’s not an outright lie.

  • First Person: To write an unreliable narrator, use first person. You can use a third person POV if the narrator has a unique voice and if it’s clear that the narrator is a person whether they’re a character or not (like in A Series of Unfortunate Events). Either way, the narrator believes that what they are narrating is the truth. If third person is used, the “you can’t always trust/believe what you see” trick is used.
  • Exaggerate, Withhold: Unreliable narrators exaggerate events and withhold information. Holden Caulfield’s mental state affects the way he sees the world in The Catcher in the Rye, and thus his descriptions of the events in the book come off as a bit odd. When an unreliable narrator withholds information, it’s not like when a character refuses to give up important information until the right moment to create suspense. It’s when the narrator leaves out bits and pieces because they don’t fit the exaggerated view.
  • Vilify: Unreliable narrators vilify anyone who challenges their point of view. If a character comes along and their behavior or dialogue is about to make the narrator seem like a liar or if this character will create plot holes, the narrator will make them seem like an antagonist by exaggerating and withholding information. It’s like when you hate a person for no reason, but you try to find any reason you can to justify that hate.
  • Other Characters: Use other characters to show that your narrator is unreliable. Your narrator might exaggerate about a certain character, only to have the presence of this character and their actions prove what the narrator said to be wrong. Create trustworthy characters to show how your character is unreliable.
  • Dialogue: What your character says to other characters can reveal that they are unreliable. If they constantly lie to other characters, the reader might relate this to their narration. Other times, your character can say something they believe is true only to have other characters look at them funny or correct them.
  • Bias: All narrators are biased and unreliable to an extent, but unreliable narrators take this further and often refuse to see the world from another character’s viewpoint. They use their morals and values to judge and explain the actions of others. This creates an unreliable narration of other characters.

TV Tropes: Unreliable Narrator (includes examples)

Filed under Unreliable narrator pov writer reference

478 notes

What’s Wrong with Your Story?

davidfarland:

image

When I’m judging stories for Writers of the Future, I don’t have time to write comments on every story that I reject, so today I’m going to start a series of articles that will tell “What’s Wrong with Your Story?”

As I read, I silently go through a mental checklist, looking for weaknesses. So here is a test. Look at the following paragraph and see if you can figure out why I would reject this tale:

Joshua lay in bed, mind blank, as the kitchen faucet dripped. Plop. Plop. Plop. Out in the living room, the cuckoo clock began to chime, and the cuckoo came from its little hutch and whistled three times. Joshua considered climbing out of bed, turning on some late-night television, but the very thought bored him. Some people die from bombs, he thought, but I shall rot away from this tedium… .

I read several stories similar to this today, and I rejected all within a page, since the author wrote about the protagonist’s tedium ad infinitum.

The problem of course here is that there is no significant conflict, certainly not enough to instantly grab your reader.

There are three things that you as a storyteller need to deliver in his opening pages:

1) a character—preferably one that is likeable or interesting

2) a setting—hopefully one that is intriguing

3) a substantial conflict—one that instantly pulls the reader into the story.

My mentor, Algis Budrys, had a rule for submissions. He said, “If they don’t have a character, a setting, and a substantial conflict within two pages, it’s an automatic rejection.” Why? Because your average reader won’t bother to keep reading your tale if those three things don’t appear quickly.

Not all conflicts are substantial. A character who is bored doesn’t have a conflict that will carry a tale. A character who is engaged in inane conversation, or who is waiting at a traffic light, or who is sitting and thinking—all probably lack sufficient conflict to start a story. I could go on, but I think that you get the idea.

Very often, I’ll find that a story like this won’t really become engaging until five or six pages in. It’s as if the author is trying to warm up.

So what do you do as a writer? You cut the pages where the character is sitting on a log, thinking. You rip out the scene where he’s bored. You delete the crud where he and his buddies exchange stupid jests at the bar. That’s all fluff.

The story has to kick into high gear as soon as possible.

When you write a scene, even a two page opener, ask yourself these questions: Do I need this scene? Is it engaging? Does it start out strong and get stronger toward the end, or does it fall flat? Do I introduce the conflict, characters, and setting smoothly? If I don’t get to the main conflict of the story in the opening two pages, do I at least have a compelling conflict that will carry the reader until he reaches the inciting incident?

On this last note, remember that you don’t always have to lead with your main conflict. It may be that your protagonist is going to find himself in battle with a demon throughout the book, but perhaps he doesn’t make that discovery for twenty pages. So you can have a smaller conflict, something fascinating that holds the reader until that main conflict is introduced.

So if you get a rejection, look to see if the opening conflict feels insignificant.

(via characterandwritinghelp)

Filed under writing advice Errors

1,041 notes

On Writing: Classist Characters

readingwithavengeance:

This one is for mynamesdrstuff, who asked how to write a classist character.

  • Classist characters don’t have to be mean.  As in, they don’t have to be willfully malicious about their classism.  Classism is a systemic form of prejudice in which both individuals and the society/system at large treat people differently based on their class or perceived class.  A person does not have to be cackling and twirling a handlebar mustache while kicking orphans in order to achieve this.  They can, in fact, be perfectly cordial with a world of sympathy in their eyes while telling the homeless man that they won’t hire him because he’s probably a drunk.  They can even smile while offering pay for rehab.  If they make the assumption that homeless = drunk without any proof beyond their own suppositions, they’re still classist.  So the first step to writing a classist character is to accept that a whole range of actions from well-meaning to mean-spirited fall under the classist banner.  Understand that you need to write your classist character as having motivations that span that range.  (Or, at least, a human-sized portion of it.)  Displaying classist characters too narrowly (especially if you’re narrowed in on the evil end) means that readers are going to get a warped vision of what classism is.  We need to see classists as squishy and human, not in an attempt to forgive/absolve them, but because squishy human problems need squishy human solutions.  Coming at things from a cartoon villain angle just compounds the issue.

Read More

(via thewritingcafe)

Filed under Classist character development Writer Resources

145 notes

maxkirin:

✐ DAILY WEIRD PROMPT ✐

SOMBRA SIN CUERPO
Write a story from the point of view of a character walking alone at night. The catch? This character notices what appears to be the shadow of someone following behind them. Double catch? They are wrong, the shadow belongs to nobody.

Want to publish a story inspired by this prompt? Click here to read the guidelines~ ♥︎ And, if you’re looking for more writerly content, make sure to follow me: maxkirin.tumblr.com!

maxkirin:

✐ DAILY WEIRD PROMPT ✐

SOMBRA SIN CUERPO

Write a story from the point of view of a character walking alone at night. The catch? This character notices what appears to be the shadow of someone following behind them. Double catch? They are wrong, the shadow belongs to nobody.

Want to publish a story inspired by this prompt? Click here to read the guidelines~ ♥︎ And, if you’re looking for more writerly content, make sure to follow me: maxkirin.tumblr.com!

Filed under word prompt

228 notes

How much have you experimented with your writing setup?

the-right-writing:

It helps to try a bunch of things to see which ones work best.

  • Do you know what time of the day you’re most productive?
  • Do you know which methods help you eliminate procrastination the best?
  • Do you have any rituals that help you get into a writing state of mind?
  • Do you know which place helps with productivity the most?
  • Do you know which distractions need to be eliminated?
  • Do you know how long you can write in a stretch?
  • Do you know whether you write better by hand or on a computer?

(via characterandwritinghelp)

Filed under Writing tips

119 notes

writeworld:

Writer’s Block
A picture says a thousand words. Write them.
Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a critique about this picture. Write something about this picture.
Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!

writeworld:

Writer’s Block

A picture says a thousand words. Write them.

Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a critique about this picture. Write something about this picture.

Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!

Filed under picture prompt

123 notes

maxkirin:

✐ DAILY WEIRD PROMPT ✐

AMONGST THE AWAKE
Write a story from the point of view of a character who has finally achieved their life-long dream. The catch? A stranger suddenly approaches this character, bringing with them a warning. Double catch? This warning is that the character is actually dreaming.

Want to publish a story inspired by this prompt? Click here to read the guidelines~ ♥︎ And, if you’re looking for more writerly content, make sure to follow me: maxkirin.tumblr.com!

maxkirin:

✐ DAILY WEIRD PROMPT ✐

AMONGST THE AWAKE

Write a story from the point of view of a character who has finally achieved their life-long dream. The catch? A stranger suddenly approaches this character, bringing with them a warning. Double catch? This warning is that the character is actually dreaming.

Want to publish a story inspired by this prompt? Click here to read the guidelines~ ♥︎ And, if you’re looking for more writerly content, make sure to follow me: maxkirin.tumblr.com!

Filed under word prompt

305 notes

penw0man asked: What do you mean by "councidence can't be used to solve his problems"? do you mind elaborating thanks:)

maxkirin:

Hello there, writerly friend~

For those of you wondering, this question has to do with the quote I posted earlier today:

image

So, what is the point of this quote? Well, the thing is. Storytelling is most effective when there is drama, and danger, and something at risk. It’s okay to have coincidence worsen a character’s day. If your character is trying to escape from prison it’s entirely fine to have coincidence get in the way. Oh, you know the 8:00PM patrol? Well they just decided to patrol at 7:50PM so your plan just went to hell.

This is good. If tension was an element— it would be fire, and the only way to keep that flame going is to keep feeding it drama and danger. This is why the climax of a story is practically a firestorm, everything that could’ve gone wrong goes wrong, and the characters have to attempt to survive against all odds.

This is what telling stories is about: drama and danger.

People tend to think that a story ‘needs’ combat, and death, and cataclysmic events to make a climax interesting— and that is the wrong way to look at things. It’s not about conflict— it’s about something being at stake. An engaging story needs to have something in the balance— and no, it doesn’t have to be the fate of the world. It can be a character’s dream of fame, or their hope for a better future.

This is why it is okay to have things go wrong, it’s more fuel to the fire.

Now, that being said… Why is it bad to solve problems through coincidence? Because you are throwing a bucket of water on your book’s tension. Let’s go back to the example I mentioned prior.

Your character is trying to escape from prison, but the 8:00PM patrol is ten minutes early. The whole plan just went to hell— except, just as the patrol is walking towards their cell, the patrol says “Wait, I forgot to take my break” and turns around.

It would be like a horror movie where the main character is running away from the killer— and then suddenly trips, they are left defenseless, they’re going to die, they’re done for, except— wait, they just found a gun in the bushes. What a stroke of luck!

Or what a way to kill the tension.

Some of you may be nodding your head and saying "This sounds like Deus Ex Machina, Max talked about this not so long ago" and you would be right. Having things unexpectedly get better is pretty much what Deus Ex Machina is, if you want to learn more about that, you can click on that link.

Now, I have encountered a lot of young writers in the past who have difficulty with this lesson— and I understand. Sometimes you feel like you have walked yourself into a corner. That you can’t write anymore, and that you need a quick fix.

Thankfully, I have just the thing for you. You know what to do when you think you’ve walked yourself into a corner? Have things go wrong.

Seriously.

Have things go wrong, and write them without fear. Trust your characters, meet them by the fire, and I can promise you that you will find a way out together. But, please— please, do not throw water on the fire. Don’t go for easy or quick fixes. Write dangerously. Follow your characters into hell.

It will be more fun that way c;

Filed under Plotting coincidence writing advoce

3,468 notes

Tone/Attitude Words

  • Accusatory: charging of wrong doing
  • Apathetic: indifferent due to lack of energy or concern
  • Awe: solemn wonder
  • Bitter: exhibiting strong animosity as a result of pain or grief
  • Cynical: questions the basic sincerity and goodness of people
  • Condescension: condescending-a feeling of superiority
  • Callous: unfeeling, insensitive to feelings of others
  • Contemplative: studying, thinking, reflecting on an issue
  • Critical: finding fault
  • Choleric: hot-tempered, easily angered
  • Contemptuous: showing or feeling that something is worthless or lacks respect
  • Caustic: intense use of sarcasm; stinging, biting
  • Conventional: lacking spontaneity, originality, and individuality
  • Disdainful: scornful
  • Didactic: author attempts to educate or instruct the reader
  • Derisive: ridiculing, mocking
  • Earnest: intense, a sincere state of mind
  • Erudite: learned, polished, scholarly
  • Fanciful: using the imagination
  • Forthright: directly frank without hesitation
  • Gloomy: darkness, sadness, rejection
  • Haughty: proud and vain to the point of arrogance
  • Indignant: marked by anger aroused by injustice
  • Intimate: very familiar
  • Judgmental: authoritative and often having critical opinions
  • Jovial: happy
  • Lyrical: expressing a poet’s inner feelings; emotional; full of images; song-like
  • Matter-of-Fact: accepting of conditions; not fanciful or emotional
  • Mocking: treating with contempt or ridicule
  • Morose: gloomy, sullen, surly, despondent
  • Malicious: purposely hurtful
  • Objective: an unbiased view-able to leave personal judgments aside
  • Optimistic: hopeful, cheerful
  • Obsequious: polite and obedient in order to gain something
  • Patronizing: air of condescension
  • Pessimistic: seeing the worst side of things; no hope
  • Quizzical: odd, eccentric, amusing
  • ribald-offensive in speech or gesture
  • Reverent: treating a subject with honor and respect
  • Ridiculing: slightly contemptuous banter; making fun of
  • Reflective: illustrating innermost thoughts and emotions
  • Sarcastic: sneering, caustic
  • Sardonic: scornfully and bitterly sarcastic
  • Satiric: ridiculing to show weakness in order to make a point, teach
  • Sincere: without deceit or pretense; genuine
  • Solemn: deeply earnest, tending toward sad reflection
  • Sanguineous: optimistic, cheerful
  • Whimsical: odd, strange, fantastic; fun

Credit to http://www.mshogue.com/AP/tone.htm

(Source: beaverofrp, via characterandwritinghelp)

Filed under Word writer reference Emotion descriptions Attitude tone

2,318 notes

The Psychology of Writing: Character Development and Anger

cutsceneaddict:

image

Sooner or later, your character is going to get mad. And I don’t mean “mad dog” mad, I mean steam-out-the-nostrils mad. Because anger is such a human emotion, it’s important to be able to portray an angry character without resorting to melodrama. Finding that realistic, human balance isn’t always easy, but it can be made easier if you—the writer—take a few minutes to research this natural, emotional response.

So, in today’s post, let’s talk about:

  • What causes anger
  • Physical signals of anger
  • Internal sensations of anger
  • Mental responses to anger
  • Cues of long-term anger
  • Signs of suppressed anger

Read More

(via referenceforwriters)

Filed under Psychology anger character development Emotion body language Writer Resources Rage

964 notes

Things Nobody Talks About, About OCD

punkwarren:

There’s starting to be a lot more option discussion on disorders that aren’t GAD, disorders with more stigma, and that is absolutely great. Yet, somehow, OCD is still getting thrown under the bus. The main reason for that being people like to water OCD down and lump it off as something two-dimensional, when it’s anything but. So here’s a little comprehensive to give a rundown from someone with it, rather than the paragraph explanation you get in a textbook.

Read More

(via characterandwritinghelp)

Filed under Ocd mental disorders writer reference